Vocamp Glasgow 14-15 was a first to be held in Scotland, also probably also the first to be co-faciliatated by a 'girl' - not that gender matters.
We had a great bunch of people lined up to attend, and although a few defaulted (apologies received from Mounia, Harry, Andrew, Maciej), it was still an impressive turnout, especially considering that people travelled from various parts of the country to attend, and Serge came all the way from Brussells!
It was the first Vocamp for everybody, except for Keith, who is a vocamp veteran having attended most of them in the UK so far. I attended the one in Ibiza earlier this year, but have experience in facilitating unconference like events, and participatory learning workshops etc. We went through a quick round of intros, then decided quickly to subvert the order of the in principle agenda, (see the wiki Vocamp page for more details and links to materials). Norman and Stuart showed the tools they are working on, Jeff and Ed shared their tutorials and demos, then one by one everybody had the chance to share their perspective, put up some slides, say a few words. Jenny showed her work in the direction of socio-tecnical web, web of people, and was pointed to the 'pragmatic web' research group
Peter works for the UK Government and is well clued in, knows a lot of SW tools and techniques, and is trying to promote the Semantic Community of Practice, check out the links on the wiki. He says he would like this community to be a vehicle for more knowledge dissemination, please link your how to's questions and answers there if you have any
Gordon comes from a strong metadata background, and works intensively in the librarianship community A mong other things is doing some cool work on Vocabulary Framework Initiative, and he has promised to keep some tickets aside especially for vocampers and semwebbers to the next meeting to be held at the British Library. Gordon faces a huge vocabulary mapping task, they are looking at RDF and ontologies as a way out. Their perspective is really valuable and important as whatever solution they find to crack their problem, is going to be largely applicable to any other sector.
Martin is working on assistive technologies and interfaces for people who have trouble communicating - , and recently meshed up an API for lastfm, he is thinking of how to use vocabularies and possibly RDF to advance the capabilities of his code
Serge shared his vision of location context aware semantic services with everyone, a vision where the web can help users locate not just information but also physical things in the real world (wouldnt it be nice). He talked about the role of location based services in relation to SW
The next day a smaller group gathered around a table, dealing with issues as they came up Peter mentioned an interest in developing a Pattern Language, and was pointed to the ontology pattern wiki organised by Eva, Aldo, Valentina of which some of us already heard of.
Norm and Stuart put up more stuff, and more importantly,John Kerneay a new friend and newcomer to the SW had the chance of presenting his problem (his company is making a transition to enterprise architecture) and he was amazed to find out how much new stuff there is to learn about. All remaining participants sat around him as he presented his slides and had the chance to perform live surgery, we all threw a tuppence at his problem space and I think he left feeling that there is a communty of people not far from him that he can go back to to develop his understanding of sw stuff
Paola finally had the chance to confront her domain range ghosts, just to find out that despite me attending a few rdf/owl workshops before, nobody had told me what i have discovered today: there are two kind of triples ( subject predicate object )
class:relation:class but also class:attribute:value (is this right?)
I showed the diagram we are working on at EIIF xg, and got valuable feedback, as well as an idea of the work ahead and the problems that we may come across and address in the future
It was good to see people who have been around relatively a long time to meet face to face for the first time, it was great to meet government techies who know a lot about the SW (are there more? where do they hide?), great to have people come from other information and industry domains, students, programmers, gathering around a table to share the semantic web dog food. Okay we did not produce any new vocabulary, but we chewed a lot of vocabulary talk, and tried to do so in relation to the bigger picture, the real world perspective.
And we left with the intent of meeting up again, and again, maybe even simply at the wifi cafe down the road to hack a vocabulary anytime is needed, and follow up with more targeted Vocamps, maybe we can have another one in Edinburgh too at some point not too far away.
Thanks a lot everybody, especially those who travelled from outside town, and to the sponsors : University of Strathclyde Information Directorate for giving us space (uhm, the wifi access did not work as expected, but most of us managed to get online eventually) and Talis for providing needed nourishment