Tuesday, February 25, 2014

About the Agro-Know blog: First three months

It was about three months ago (end of November 2013) when we had a discussion with +Nikos Manouselis about various AK-related stuff and I was delighted to hear that he was in fond of starting our corporate blog - not only that, but he would leave everything to me to design and implement. It seems that Nikos has been following my blog (the one that you are reading now) for the last months, he liked it and he would like to see something similar for AK.

In about 10 days we had everything up and running, with the precious technical help of my colleague Stauros Gkinis: the latest version of Wordpress was installed in one of the AK-owned servers and an FTP was setup for installing themes and plugins. Since we opted for a self-hosted blog, we had to skip my favorite Blogspot or even the promising and easier to use Tumblr. It took me some days to set up and customize the Wordpress installation by selecting a green theme (related to the scope of the blog), install plugins for sharing posts through social media, set up an analytics account for the blog etc. On November 27th, 2013 the blog was online and public! Of course a number of revisions were performed until now, based on the actual use of the blog, and more are expected to take place eventually. I like to experiment with new interfaces and plugins and as an admin of the blog, I have the opportunity to do so every now and then.

The content of the blog consists of posts about AK-related events, reports from project meetings and trips, interviews with friends of AK as well as interviews with the AK team members (who are asked to expose themselves in the "Know Agro-Know" series!). I should not leave out the really interesting posts with personal views, usually on topics that the AK team is working on, like open and linked data, green topics etc.

I was recently informed that the blog had to be placed in a more powerful server due to increased traffic which caused issues to the proper functionality of the other services hosted in the same server; that was good news! Indeed, in less than three months from its launch, the blog has 48 blog posts from 9 different authors and 37 comments. It has received almost 1,500 visits and more than 3,200 pageviews from about 500 unique visitors coming from 34 different countries. The best part: More than 66% of the visitors are returning ones, meaning that they like what they see and they come back to check!

I am proud of what the blog has achieved so far and I am sure that it will get better and better day by day with the precious help of all collaborators; the more it will be used, the better it will be. You can check out the Agro-Know blog here.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Webinar@AIMS:Organic.Edunet ontology evolution and management

A couple of weeks ago I received an invitation from the FAO AIMS team to make a presentation on the management of Knowledge Organization Systems (KOSs), as a part of a series of Webinars. Many people know how I feel when it comes to FAO: as a student of agricultural sciences I used to consider FAO as the centre of agricultural decision making and I still remember my recent visit to the FAO HQ in Rome (during the VOA3R 7th Project Meeting) which sent shivers down my spine each time I walked up and down the building.. I felt honoured to receive the invitation and could not refuse of course; I still have a crush on FAO!

Despite the fact that I do not have a background in knowledge management or ontology engineering, I have found myself involved with ontologies and KOSs rather often mainly as a domain expert; my first attempt was with the Organic.Edunet ontology back in the years of the Organic.Edunet project, then I got the opportunity to be involved in the development of a number of small, domain-specific ontologies for the VOA3R project (aquaculture, viticulture, organic agriculture and ICT in agriculture) and recently contributed to the corresponding agINFRA deliverable describing the publication of KOSs as linked data, along with an analysis of the KOS used by the agINFRA data providers. At the same time, I was heavily involved in the Organic.Edunet ontology evolution which took place in the context of the Organic.Lingua project and included a significant update/revision of the ontology in several aspects, like multilinguality (translation of concepts in additional languages), deprecation of existing concepts and refinement of existing ones (depending on their usage) etc.

In any case, I thought that the best approach for this case would be to make it a presentation on the Organic.Edunet ontology management/evolution, a case that I know pretty well and I could present in details. Indeed, the Webinar on the Organic.Edunet ontology management and evolution, titled “Knowledge Organization Systems (KOS): Management of Classification Systems in the case of Organic.Edunet” took place on 21/2/2014 using the Adobe Connect platform of FAO AIMS. Despite the connection issues I faced throughout the Webinar (I think I got disconnected 2-3 times, a fact which disorganized me...), everything went pretty well and you can see the recording of the webinar below (as well as through the FAO AIMS page of the webinar).

The presentation included a short introduction to KOS and some of the open source tools used for the management of KOS before focusing on the Organic.Edunet ontology evolution and the MoKi tool used for this purpose.

The next steps in the ontology evolution, as described in the slides as well include additional translations, minor revision of concepts and their publication as linked data; we still have to define a valid namespace and fine tune some details. At the same time, we are working on a similar approach in the agINFRA project but with different "raw" material.

Overall, the webinar was a really nice experience and provided an opportunity for us to expose a part of the work that took place in the context of the Organic.Lingua project. Additional webinars in collaboration with FAO AIMS are in the plans for the next months, equally interesting and related to the agricultural metadata and KOS standards so... stay tuned!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Report from the last Organic.Lingua Greek user trial

Another user trial of the Organic.Lingua project took place a few days before the end of the project, on the 12th of February 2014, at the premises of the Agricultural University of Athens (AUA), kindly hosted by the Laboratory of Viticulture and organized by Agro-Know.

The audience consisted of approximately 15 people, mostly post-graduate students of AUA as well as faculty of the laboratory; participation was not easy for anyone wishing to participate, as the exam period was ongoing during these days. The approach followed was according to the guidelines developed by the Organic.Lingua project, consisting of a couple of introductory presentations and a hands-on session. More specifically, the trial started with a presentation titled "Green Open Educational Resources (OER) concept", which provided an introduction to the OER concept and examples on web portals and other sources of green OER. The presentation was followed by another one, titled "Agricultural education collections & repositories", which provided information on the concept of metadata and their importance, how they are created and used in the portals for retrieving educational resources etc.

Presenting the OER concept

After a short coffee break, the re-engineered Organic.Edunet Web portal was presented to the participants; starting with a brief flash-back on how it all started, its evolution and the current status through the improvements made in the context of the Organic.Lingua project. The demonstration focused on the multilinguality features of the project such as the multilingual user interface and the metadata automatic translation features. The users were invited to register and follow a pre-defined scenario for browsing through the portal and perform specific activities which tested the portal's feature. The next step was the participation in the online questionnaire which was used by the participants to provide their feedback.

Partial view of the participants

The last session of the workshop included a hands-on session on the use of the AgLR tool and the new visualization interfaces of the Organic.Edunet ontology, which is going to replace the previously available semantic browsing option of the Organic.Edunet Web portal. Due to the fact that not all participants had their laptops available during the workshop, the specific part had to take place in groups rendering the process more challenging. However, this allowed a more informal discussion to take place by the end of the workshop, which focused mainly on various aspects of the Organic.Edunet Web portal and the OER concept in general.

Overall it was a nice experience; a validation and dissemination event for the Organic.Lingua project and an opportunity for the participants to get to know about OER, web sources of OER and of course the Organic.Edunet Web portal. You can find additional photos from the event here.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Report from the Organic.Lingua Final Workshop

The Final Workshop of the Organic.Lingua project, titled Using multilingual technologies in web portals – Challenges & Promises”, took place on Thursday, February 6th, 2014 between 15.30-18.30 (CET) at the premises of  CittĂ  dell’Altra Economia (CAE) in Rome, Italy. It was co-organised by Agro-Know Technologies and University of Alcalá (UAH), both project partners of the Organic.Lingua project. The Agro-Know team was represented at the Workshop by Nikos MarianosGiannis was there on behalf of the UAH team while Andreas Drakos was also there, as the Workshop was collocated with the Herbal.Mednet 3rd project meeting, which Andreas attended. I did not manage to attend and I have to admit that I missed that but the trip would be too time consuming during a really busy period.
Photo taken by David Martin Moncunill
The Workshop was focused in the multilingual outcomes of the project and included the following presentations:
  1. Multilingual information services in the area of agricultural data : the use case of AGRIS (Keynote Speech): Fabrizio Celli (FAO)
  2. Applying language technologies in agricultural online services: The case of Organic.Edunet: Salvador Sanchez-Alonso  (UAH)
  3. Managing multilingual vocabularies and ontologies: Mauro Dragoni (FBK)
  4. A multilingual framework for transforming online services to truly multilingual: Giannis Stoitsis (UAH)
The workshop also included a networking session in the form of a round-table discussion, which provided the opportunity to the participants to discuss on potential opportunities arising from Horizon 2020 and Connecting Europe Facility.
Photo taken by David Martin Moncunill
The Workshop provided a nice opportunity to expose the outcomes of the Organic.Lingua project to a wider audience and also to explore the opportunities for making a step further in this direction, probably in the form of another proposal/project. The next milestone for the project is of course its end (28/2/2014) and the upcoming 3rd Review Meeting (30/4/2014). I am optimistic that all will go well and that we will manage to get another green card for this project ;-)

You can find more photos from the event here.

Created with flickr slideshow.