Thursday, October 15, 2009

Opening of the German/Austrian W3C-Office / Teaching the Web at FH Potsdam

Today, I'm visiting the Opening of the German/Austrian W3C-Office at FH Potsdam (only 20 minutes away from HPI with public transportation), which is entitled "Teaching the Web".

Short Opening address by Prof. Johannes Vielhaber, rector of FH Potsdam and by Felix Sasaki, followed by the first speaker.
Klaus Birkenbihl on "W3C and W3C Offices - an Overview", who gives some general information about W3C and some overview about the worldwide W3C offices and their duties. Today, there are 18 W3C offices and on of their main tasks is the recruiting of local stakeholders to become W3C (paying) members. But also have to be mentioned better synergies with local hosts for community building, acquisition of local projects, and fostering new cooperations.

Andrew Vande Moere from the University of Sidney on "Visualization for the Web", author of the information aesthetics blog. He starts with giving an overview on visualization technology ranging from simple data graphs to information art (e.g. the Web2DNA website for visualizing your website as DNA-Sequence...). The main message....ok, open up your data and make your data publicly available (that's my point! Go one step further and make it Linked Open Data!). Then, there are lots of new possibilities for intelligent data mashups (as e.g. the 'the city is the future web'), making use of the data in a completely new way. Two interesting examples for web online visualizations are Google's visualization API and IBM's Many Eyes ('the youtube of visualization'), not to forget tha ultimate data mining &visualization application on your personal data (only for 'the data addicted'),

Malgorzata Machol from FU Berlin (instead of the announced Prof. Tolksdorf...) on "Why Semantic Web " and the "Semantic Technology Institute". Sorry, but I can't stand those web2.0/3.0/xxx timelines any more. I've seen better motivations for the Semantic Web (at least with better/newer examples). Unfortunately, in this talk the Semantic web is motivated with a rather coarse conception of 'semantics' and (human/machine) 'understanding'. There is too much of human perception (and complex human understanding) mixed up with formal semantics and technology working on formal semantics (and what can be achieved with it w.r.t where are its limits). Please try to achieve more and better differentiation. The second part of the talk is about the STI in Germany and its activities around the semantic web.

After the lunch break, the event continues with Lambert Heller from TIB/UB Hannover on 'Library 2.0 – how the web has (and is) changing education of librarians?'. Today, the library catalogue is nothing but highly structured data, but the problem of uniquely identifying strings (symbols) with subjects (catalogue entries) is only solved on the surface and in a superficial way. There are commonly used (and elaborated) data sources such as the 'Schlagwortnormdatei' or the 'Personennormdatei' that contain reliable structured information about persons (authors) or keywords. But, today these datasets are not publicly available (while it is also not certain, who really owns the copyright, and what kind of copyright at all...). Let's get all these data, triplify it and make it Linked Open Data!!!
Finally, come and visit 3rd BibCamp in Hannover in May 2010:

Patrick H. Lauke from (web evangelist at) Opera Software on 'Standards education - what students need to know about web standards and accessibility'. It', about telling the big picture to the students. Not really the complete design specification or code implementation. ('Standards are Code....and Designers don't care about code') Make clear why...not necessarely how. On the other hand, there's accessibility. Web accessibility is more than blind users and screen readers. accessibility doesn't have to be hard. In fact, a lot of accessibility is just usability! Opera accordingly is invoved in outreach and educational activities on 'Teaching the Web' (Opera: We want to make the Web a better place!).

Petra Rauschenbach from Bundesarchiv on 'Conversion, Digitisation and Internet Gateways. Strategies and their implementation at the Federal Archives of Germany'. Starting with an overview on overview of their stocks and a lot of German archival vocabulary, which I cannot translate into English. Unfortunately, Mrs. Rauschenbach is 'reading' the talk and not talking freely...Also the term 'Findbuch' (i.e. concordance, index) sounds somehow very 'retro' for computer scientiest like me. But anyhow, the content of the Bundesarchiv (Federal Archive) is available on the web....why not make it Linked Open Data??

Henry S. Thompson from University of Edinburgh on 'Teaching Web Architecture'.
students:WWW::fish:water i.e. the relationship between students and the WWW is similar to the relationship of fish and water. So, why teaching a fish about the water? Learn to think about something which usually is invisible (i.e. the technology we are using everyday). So how should we teach web standards? Basic didactic principles like 'Analysis' (decomposing concepts), Contradiction (to something taken for granted), Analogies (being offered for confounding expectations) are presented. I like the last one: E.g. 'Standards come from official standards bodies', but consider the following: IEEE (semi-private bodies) / IETF (bunch of volunteers, left-overs of a hippie community) / W3C (2 private Universities, one semi-private body and companies paying some fee)...all of them have NO legal authority. More on this can also be here: 'Identity, URIs and Semantic Web'.
Conclusion: Teaching needs to draw on theatre as well as educational theory, 'Keeping people engaged is the core of education.'

Jens Meiert from Google Inc. on 'Modern Web development – a view on the future of HTML, CSS and development practices'. As expected, we are starting in the past, 1990 HTML 1.0 by Tim Berners-Lee. What about development practices? Problems in the past ranged from technological limitations, support limitations over low output quality up to bad user experience. In the Present, more and more we are facing a separation between behavior, structure, and presentation.

Erik Wilde from School of Information, UC Berkeley on 'Information Engineering' (BTW, my very first on lecture on web technology back at FSU Jena was based on Erik Wilde's book, this was before I had written my own ;-). He's using Google sidewiki for his lecture handouts and presentations, which can be annotated by the students simply by installing the Google toolbar in your browser.
Information Engineering is bigger than the web. It includes high level skills such as information and service modelling, or knowledge about complementary architectures. The Web of Things is nothing but applied Information Engineering. Engineering can be defined as constrained-based design and implementation.

[to be continued]