I have previously described how, for me, Linked Data was the highlight of the WWW 2007 conference. But what else was of interest?
As well as looking forward, this year the conference had a Web History track which included an exhibition of artefacts from early days of the Web and a series of presentations and panel sessions which discussed various aspects of the development of the Web. If I had had more time prior to the conference I would have brought various items that I have in my possession from the time I became involved in Web activities starting back in December 19992, including the Running An Institutional WWW Server handbook I wrote, various newspaper clippings and memorabilia from the Web conference I have attended. However Bebo White did invite me to take part in a panel session which reminisced about World Wide Web conference series, together with Professor Wendy Hall. Following the session, Marc Weber of the Web History Centerasked if I would be willing to be interviewed (and recorded) about my involvement in the early days of the World Wide Web, and, in particular, the promotional activities I was involved in across the UK higher education community (when everyone else seemed to be convinced that the future lay with Gopher). Marc was a very successful, non-intrusive interviewer and the 30-45 minute interview I had expected actually lasted for about 90 minutes. Marc and his colleagues appreciate the need to preserve such key moments in the development of the Web – and there are close links with the work of the DCC (Digital Curation Centre) which UKOLN is a member of. So I’m looking forward to building on my initial contact with Marc – and perhaps finding others within the UK HE sector who were active in the early days of the Web (for example, the UK Active Map of UK Universities at Wolverhampton University). And, incidentally, isn’t in unfortunate that the sector has lost the archives of the web-support Mailbase list which was the prime discussion service used by the community back in 1994.
The Keynote Presentation
The keynote talk which had the biggest impression was given by Dick Hardt. Dick, CEO of SXIP Identity, gave a performance, which, while lacking in implementation detail, was never dull and did seem to stimulate many of the delegates. This talk is one Dick has given at other conferences, and a recording of the talk on Identity 2.0given at the O’Reilly Open Source Convention is available on YouTube.
There was a lot of interest in the talk on Yahoo Pipes in the Developer’s Day track. A live demonstration was given which showed how Yahoo Pipes can be used to very quickly generate an application which processes structured information, such as, but not restricted to RSS. I’ve previous looked at Yahoo Pipes, but I know I should spent a but more time in familiarising myself with it, as I do think it has a lot of potential. Further information on the talk is given in a blog posting by Peter Murray-Rust.
But the best thing about the conference was the people I met, the ideas we exchanged and the (very friendly) discussions and arguments that ensued. When I return to work some of the people I’ll be getting in touch with in order to follow-up on our discussions include Marc Weber, Peter Murray-Rust, Glen Newton, Tom Heath, Stephen Coast, Christian Bizer Freie, Danny Ayres and Denny Vrandecic.
And finally it was flattering – and rather embarrassing – when I met one of the conference volunteers who works at a UK university who, when she found out who I was, described me as the “God of the Web in the UK”. After having recently been described as a “well-honed athlete” I suspect there will be a lot of disappointed people who read these postings and then meet me in the flesh :-)