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SEMANTiCS 2021:  Amsterdam Meets Zoom at First Hybrid Conference

September 22, 2021
Semantics Amsterdam 2021

The SEMANTiCS conference is the leading European conference on Semantic Technologies and AI. This year, SEMANTiCS 2021 opted for a hybrid conference method, which Semantic Web Company (SWC) happily participated in both on-premise in Amsterdam and online in Zoom. 

Over the course of 4 days, the conference saw 200 people on site and 264 online across 60 talks and 9 workshops. For SWC, SEMANTiCS 2021 was celebrated as a great success.

Angela DaSilva

Angela DaSilva

Content Writer

Behind the scenes at SWC’s first hybrid conference.

With the pandemic as the background to this event, a hybrid setup was the happy solution to accommodate all parties who were involved in the conference. A first for SEMANTiCS and SWC, this hybrid event certainly posed many questions for everyone. 

While SWC’S Marketing Director Thomas Thurner is the resident pro at managing the company’s involvement in the conference, the hybrid format made his experience all the more interesting. How does someone who has been coordinating an international in-person conference for years adjust to manning a virtual check-in desk from countries away? Just like this. 

Thomas bravely took on the hybrid setup with 5 different screens, 2 keyboards, 1 headset, 2 docking stations, and many breakout rooms and Zoom chats. Internally, SWC referred to Thomas’ “control center” as the “SEMANTiCS cocoon” where he expertly fielded questions from participants, directed them to the correct Zoom rooms, and helped coordinate what was going on from the ground in Amsterdam. SWC’s success at the conference certainly couldn’t have been done without the hybrid “cocoon” – big hats off to Thomas for all his hard work.

SWC online.

Research Team leads the virtual presence.

Heading the research department at SWC are Artem Revenko, Victor Mireles, Anna Breit, and Sotiris Karampatakis, who presented their research based on Named Entity Recognition and the Austrian courts. Titled “Semantics in Legal Texts,” their presentation investigated an approach to produce fine-grained named entity annotations from a small training dataset, that could be applied to a large corpus of Austrian court decisions in order to make them more easily navigable. In this presentation, SWC was joined by speakers from DKFI and openlaws.

Artem Revenko, @revenkoartem, also contributed to the NLP & DBpedia workshop held on the final day of the conference. As a facet of a Systematic Mapping Study — Combining Machine Learning and Semantic Web conducted in frames of FFG-funded project OBARIS, Artem’s presentation featured a literature review research on NLP with DBpedia.

On knowledge graphs and data inconsitencies.

CTO Robert David and Data & Knowledge Engineer Albin Ahmeti gave a presentation about how enterprises can manage and recover from data processing errors using quality enterprise knowledge graphs. While knowledge graphs excel in their ability to bridge data silos and link data across an organization, their complexity may occasionally result in some inconsistencies. An enterprise knowledge graph supported by SHACL validation can prevent inconsistencies from occurring, or repair those in place. Their presentation included a demo of a prototypical system that uses PoolParty, SHACL, and a Datalog engine provided by RDFox to maintain consistent data.

SWC on-premise.

In Amsterdam, SWC wore many hats in terms of its involvement with the conference.

As a gold sponsor of the event, SWC could manage a booth in the venue marketplace, a 30 minute keynote presentation on the main stage, and a tutorial workshop. 

Arriving on the scene Monday morning, the PoolParty team’s first step was to set up the booth. Together, the team laid out the PoolParty banners and take-home collaterals. Interested in downloading these materials? Click on the link to get your free download.

Manning the booth were Data & Knowledge Engineer Heather Hedden, Strategic Partner Manager Gordon Hayden, and Sales Representative to Germany and Switzerland Lutz Krüger. The team was available to answer questions from those who inquired about PoolParty and chat about the semantic web.

It was great to speak face-to-face with people again, although we were not totally used to it anymore,” joked CFO Martin Kaltenböck in regards to the booth being SWC’s first in-person event since the pandemic. “Still, it was great to learn about new trends and meet partners and customers.”

Along with his participation at the booth, Martin was also a moderating chair for a few keynote discussions and presentations.

Similarly, CSO Florian Bauer, who was another person representing SWC in Amsterdam, helped with the booth and had his own speech on the main stage.

From recommender systems to taxonomies, SWC delivers 2 keynote presentations.

On day one of the conference, Florian gave his talk, “Building recommender systems that work.” Recommender systems are increasingly popular and in-demand in recent years, so Florian addressed the need for a strong recommender at an enterprise level and how it fits into an Enterprise 360 model. Under this principle, users of a knowledge graph can gain holistic understanding of all their data, and build robust recommender systems that help facilitate a positive content creation process, management of employee life cycles, etc. Our free demo, the HR Recommender, can “matchmake employees” to the right projects and colleagues according to their profiles and skills. 

Day 2 saw Heather Hedden giving a morning-long tutorial on taxonomies. Titled, “Knowledge Engineering of Taxonomies, Thesauri, and Ontologies,” Heather’s interactive tutorial/workshop was a highlight of the conference’s program. As an established expert in the field of taxonomies, Heather provided a 101-style presentation that taught the fundamentals and best practices for creating high quality taxonomies, thesauri, and ontologies, and also allowed participants to complete exercises and partake in the discussion. By the end of Heather’s tutorial, users could have a better understanding of how taxonomies can be used and extended into comprehensive knowledge organization systems like enterprise knowledge graphs. 

SWC and its partners.

CSO Florian Bauer, who also heads the Partner Success Team at SWC, expressed positivity towards the partner-related events held at SEMANTiCS 2021 as well. In order to celebrate the successful relationships with our partners, our team hosted a Partner Meet & Greet following the conference’s events. Following the meetup, partners and the PoolParty team went to a nearby restaurant to talk about semantics and have friendly chats over drinks and hors d’oeuvres. 

“The SEMANTiCS conference in Amsterdam was a unique opportunity to meet several of our well-trusted PoolParty Partners and discuss our joint vision to provide comprehensive and innovative Semantic AI solutions together,” said Florian. 

Partners such as RWS, QAnswer, Enterprise Knowledge and Capco presented exciting industry use cases and positioned the PoolParty Semantic Suite as a reliable and robust set of tools that can be well integrated into partner solutions. One specific example to highlight is the announcement of the full integration of PoolParty as an OEM component in upcoming RWS Tridion Docs and Sites releases, allowing Tridion to offer a new Semantic Layer with Smart Tagging and improved content delivery features based on Semantic Search.

About the event, Florian commented, “we are proud to be recognized as a well trusted partner for those industry-leading organizations.” 

SEMANTiCS reflections.

Altogether, SWC was proud to have strong representation from all sides at the SEMANTiCS Conference. While this was not SWC’s first time, it was certainly the most unique and still very successful. SWC is proud to contribute to such an important event in the world of the semantic web – where participants and stakeholders have a similarly shared vision. Discovering and exchanging knowledge is always at the forefront of Semantic Web Company’s belief system, and SEMANTiCS is a great vehicle to partake in this motto. 



Photos by, courtesy of SEMANTiCS Conference 2021.

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