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[ontolog-forum] Observation on one Result of Success Re: Presentation on

To: "[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>, "Chris Menzel" <cmenzel@xxxxxxxx>
From: Rex Brooks <rexb@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 23 Oct 2007 06:13:19 -0700
Message-id: <a0624081bc3439b82291d@[]>
Paola, Chris, et al,    (01)

I have a short observation I would like to make.    (02)

Some of the apparent shortcomings of this Forum are results of its 
increasing success. Having been around for a couple of years now, I 
have watched the attendance move from 10-20 per session plus those 
who attend asynchronously using the archived recordings to sometimes 
as many as 40-50 with hundreds attending and reattending 
asynchronously. However our average now seems usually in the 20-30 
range at which our normal procedure of having folks introduce 
themselves becomes difficult or impossible.    (03)

Also our planning sessions are growing fewer and farther between, 
which is another incipient difficulty for getting our diversity 
represented well in presentations.    (04)

No doubt the advent of the Semantic Web is responsible for this, as 
slowly developing as it is (even though that rate of development is 
100% above what could have been possible prior to the advent of the 
web or the inevitable dotcom bubble bust which actually marked  the 
first stage of maturation from of Web 1.0 from infancy to toddlerhood 
by analogy).    (05)

The point is that we are seeing effects from this success. We've 
reached what may be a critical mass for effecting a change in the 
development and adoption of Semantic Web technologies. We are, I 
think, somewhere in the trough of interest between the first peak of 
enthusiasm during the introductory phase of a technology (which I 
think may have been marked by last years first Ontology Summit and 
the peak of interest when funding dollars rush in to exploit a 
perceived opportunity. I have seen this before a few times without 
being aware of the social and economic dynamic at work in these times.    (06)

(Please note, our Forum is not the measure I'm using for gauging this 
interest, but rather the attendance at related conferences such as 
the Semantic Technologies Conference last year in San Jose, CA and 
the trade journal "buzz" around Web 2.0)    (07)

Unfortunately, the usual path these tech waves or wavelets take in 
these troughs is often marked by a number of relatively deleterious 
syndromes when pioneers are often left behind.  One such syndrome 
pits enthusiastic (relative) newcomers against "bleeding deacons," 
folks like myself who have been onboard a while and have a 
semi-religious tendency to hearken back to the "good old days." I'm 
not saying that this is one such syndrome, just that as recently as 
two years ago, we had a difficult time attracting speakers and often 
our planning sessions outnumbered our presentations or panel 
discussions.    (08)

All in all, I think this current concern about how speakers and 
presentations make their way to center stage is a healthy sign, even 
if sometimes it can seem uncomfortable or contentious. I think our 
community is healthy enough to weather a few 'growing pains." I also 
think we want to forge ahead, and, if anything, build a bigger tent, 
or water-cooler to use Peter's analogy.    (09)

Rex    (010)

At 1:56 PM +0700 10/23/07, paola.dimaio@xxxxxxxxx wrote:
>>  John [...] suggested no such thing --
>>  indeed, quite the opposite; he said that most anyone on the ontolog list
>>  would find the work interesting.
>Yes, I also read it that way. And sure Leo's work is interesting and
>relevant, and exciting
>like other ideas proposed to the list that, for some reason, do not
>seem to get 'traction' that (arguably) the may equally deserve.
>Having worked (very briefely though) in the theater (after a brief
>spell in  the circus </JOKE>), I have learned that the success of an
>act often depends on how well rewarded the 'claque' is.  Kinda social
>behaviour issue.
>In online discussions groups, many use a trick, as I am sure we all know:
>prompt a student or an associate to ask a question on list, so that
>the answer can be elegantly and casually queued in, and let a couple
>of peers  support the lucky timeliness and fitness of our response,
>certain that sooner or later favour will be returned - thats how clans
>are formed . (scratch my back and I ll scratch yours). This is common
>tactics, and widely adopted especially in politics, other times just
>rather innocently, or even legitimately done (nothing wrong with
>promoting one's work)
>I am personally interested in most things (learn, learn) and I
>apologise first, for not attending the presentations in person - Idue
>to time zone contrating - though I plan listen to ALL of them time
>permitting and will review all the work accordingly at the earliest
>opportunity. I also apologise for not supporting more actively the
>ideas that I am intersted in - for example was it adrian walker, or
>someone else, who sent a post recently with link about reviving an old
>presentation on 'unifying logic' or something like that- that was also
>very interesting I'd like to hear more. Sorry for not replying -
>Azamat perhaps you should substantiate and elaborate, in appropriate
>form, what you mean by 'derivative' there, might add an interesting
>persective to understanding the context of the presentation.
>Finally, I think anyone should be able to suggest a presentation,
>either their own work or someone else's. While number of people
>attending is a good measure of 'success' it is not the only factor to
>determine whether the work is important/interesting/exciting, rather
>the size of the budgets they administer, or how busy people were on
>that day, or how bad was the traffic on the way to the office
>(complexity rules). Very British 'speakers corner' concept, where
>anyone coud walk up and take the public stand. Amazing how may people
>stopped and listened everyday, you wouldnt know if they were really
>interested or just had nothing better to do! dunno if its still going
>A lot of important/interesting/exiting work is not known, nor
>understood, and the purpose of this forum is also to shed light on
>that aspect of reality, not just to promote and acclaim what is
>already appreciated
>I am grateful to all for the learning opportunity, and I look forward
>to reading Leo's  paper/slides, any critical reviews thereof, as well
>as to listen to what anyone else's has got to say.
>Paola Di Maio
>He only recommended, helpfully, that
>>  any large documents should be made available on the web rather than sent
>>  out via the list.
>>  Furthermore, all Leo did was inform the list of work that he and his
>>  group have done which he (rightly) felt might be of interest to forum
>>  members.  If that is self-promotion of a sort that "downgrades" the
>>  forum, then almost everyone here is guilty -- you, in particular.
>>  Fortunately, this definition of self-promotion is ridiculous.  The list
>>  exists in part for ontology researchers to share their work with others,
>>  so long as that work is freely available.  And, knowing Leo, as you
>>  obviously do not, I would venture that self-promotion was the last thing
>>  he had in mind.
>>  > Besides, it is hardly a big deal to publicly discuss derivative works
>>  > with narrow scope?  This Forum fully deserves high-quality agenda,
>>  > which should be offered by impartial members.
>>  There is no such thing an "impartial" member.  Everyone is partial to
>>  their own views and not everyone is going to agree on what is original
>>  and what is derivative, what is high-quality and what is not, what is
>>  narrow and what is not.  What there is, hopefully, is tolerance of
>>  diverse viewpoints (and, of course, spirited debate ;-).  This is an
>>  open forum and one of its strengths is that a wide range of views are
>>  represented and a diversity of research is publicized and discussed.
>>  People get to decide for themselves what is relevant and important to
>>  them.  That's why, in particular, you are able to promote your own work
>>  here without objection even though not everyone finds it relevant or
>>  important.
>>  > Now to make prime presentations, we have to invite the original
>>  > researchers able to say something fresh or groundbreaking. I opine
>>  > many of the participants will be 'enthusiastic' to learn what's going
>>  > on with the following hot subjects:
>  >
>>  Probably so.  And lots more besides.  Fortunately, no one person gets to
>>  make unilateral decisions about what is "hot", who should present, and
>>  what should be discussed.
>>  Chris Menzel
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>Paola Di Maio
>School of IT
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>    (011)

Rex Brooks
President, CEO
Starbourne Communications Design
GeoAddress: 1361-A Addison
Berkeley, CA 94702
Tel: 510-898-0670    (012)

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