After writing so much about the other fun speeches, sessions, and things to do at the ESOF2008, I didn’t manage to talk about our own session, “Euroscience’s Interactive Workshop: Development of a virtual network custom designed for scientists”, which took place on Monday afternoon.
The sessions was started off by Professors Peter Westh and Roberto Poli, who each presented their vision for an interdisciplinary network for researchers. In their view, ontologies and semantic knowledge will play a key part in establishing a useful network that is not merely a “Facebook for scientists”, but helps to connect researchers through highlighting common areas of interest or – as Prof. Westh emphasized – possible new applications of existing knowledge.
That, of course, was music to our ears. We’ve talked about our “Mendeley = Last.fm for research” vision before on this blog, but the EuroScience workshop was the perfect venue for tossing the idea around a bit further. After all, Last.fm has managed to create the largest ontological classification (and the largest open database) of music in the world, by aggregating the musical tastes of its 20 million users and then data-mining it for similar musical genres, artists, and songs.
So our presentation was aimed at exploring how these principles could be applied to research. You can find an abridged version below! I tried my best at voiceover narration, but doing it in front of my computer at midnight just doesn’t turn out as lively as standing in front of an audience:
After the talk, we got great feedback from the audience. The panel moderator, Jens Degett, even wondered whether we just might have solved the major problem of Open Access – the researchers’ lack of participation: With Mendeley, researchers have an increased incentive to post their articles online, because it enables them track the evolution of their readership in real-time!
One of the audience members who came up to us after the presentation was Anders Norgaard, a Ph.D. student from Denmark who had some cool suggestions for future features. We also talked about open sourcing Mendeley Desktop, and I mentioned to him that we had three KDE developers on our team. This is the dialog that ensued:
Anders: Oh, really? What are their names?
Me: Well, there’s Mike Arthur…
Anders: Mike Arthur? I know him, he’s quite famous in the KDE scene!
Me: …and Fred Emmott…
Anders: Fred Emmott? The guy who’s doing Slamd64?!
Me: …yes, and Robert Knight will be starting next Monday…
Anders: Robert Knight?! He’s famous, too! How did you manage to get those guys?
Well, the credit goes to Mike. I knew that we had brilliant engineers on our team, but I was clueless that they were actually famous… Mike, Fred, Robert – I tip my hat to you guys!