March 6th, 2008 by Martin

ALOE is already in Hannover at CeBIT 2008 for three days now, and it looks as if several new and interesting cooperations are possible. Let’s see what happens, I’m curious. CeBIT will last until Sunday evening, you can find ALOE at the DFKI booth (B37) in hall 9!

And for all the German speaking readers: On Friday, I will give a future talk (also in hall 9) about the ideas behind ALOE. It’s called: “Schöne neue Metadatenwelt - Experten, Computer und User Generated Content”.

Looking forward to meeting you in Hannover!

The Future of Metadata

February 8th, 2008 by Martin

Back from the Workshop “Metadata 2.0″ in Leuven. Thanks to the organizers and participants for this inspiring event! You find the presented material on the Wiki.

20080207 leuven 005
Yes, of course I had frites in Belgium!

What’s the outcome for me? Well, there’s definitely something going on out there. And most of the people are aware of that. Expert generated metadata - whatever quality they create, and even if it was only considering “objective” metadata - is not a solution for the future. What worked (somehow) for libraries doesn’t work in the same way for digital resources, especially on the Web. The Web is no library. We need new approaches when it’s about to provide information about resources.

The Web is not centralized. And neither should the metadata describing resources on the Web be. I think that Resource profiles as described by Stephen Downes in 2004 are the future of metadata! There is a lot of very valuable information about resources in many places. Distributed, created in different ways, in different formats. This can of course also be expert metadata, but also metadata generated by users or user interactions, usage metadata, automatically generated metadata etc. Yes, it can also be crap. But we are free to choose what we need and what we like. It’s up to us which people and which services we trust! When we look at all the different metadata this way, we have a much better chance to get valid information about what a resource is really about, about how it is used in the community, and about subjective information such as “quality” or “difficulty”.

Of course we can only use metadata about resources when we know that it exists. Maybe someday Google or someone else will provide means as the recently launched Social Graph API to harvest metadata. When we can’t harvest the information ourselves, we need hubs where such information is collected. And because we wanted to have such a hub that also allows to integrate new information, we developed ALOE. Using the Web Interface or the Service API, everybody can contribute information like “x is metadata about y”. Users can either upload the metadata and the resource, or they can just referer to an existing URL. ALOE is a repository and a referatory. Because a simple hub would be quite dead and anonymous, and because we also wanted to encourage users to participate, we developed ALOE as a “social hub”, i.e., it comes with a nice Web interface, you can tag, comment, rate, communicate, join groups…all the social media stuff.

It will be very exciting to see what will happen in the future. And I hope some of the exciting things will happen in ALOE! And this reminds me that I almost forgot that we also have an ALOE Blog, and that I should blog about what we’re currently working on…stay tuned!

“Metadata 2.0″

February 5th, 2008 by Martin

Thanks to Erik Duval and Martin Wolpers, I have the pleasure to give a talk at the Workshop “Metadata 2.0″ in Leuven on February 7th.

The title of my presentation will be ALOE - Combining User Generated Content and Traditional Metadata. I will talk about the ideas that led to the development of ALOE, and about the (potential) benefits of combining different kinds of metadata.

Update: The slides are available at slideshare now

CAMA 2007

June 25th, 2007 by Martin

I’m currently sitting in the lobby of the Bosman’s Hotel, trying not to fall asleep before my taxi arrives to take me to the airport…

The CAMA workshop yesterday was very interesting, there’s a lot going on in the field. For me, the main questions when trying to use CAM to provide some advanced services are still the following ones:

  • What is a good model for context? Do we maybe have to follow a multi-layer approach which can be used for different kinds of services? Defining a complex model would of course potentially allow for very advanced services, but how many objects will ever be annotated with such information? That’s why I’m a friend of a quite flat and simple model that eases a common understanding.
  • How can we motivate users to share CAM? This not only involves issues like good interfaces, simplicity and joy-of-use, but also privacy and security issues.

Concerning the second point, I expected to get some suggestions from the keynote of Seth Goldstein. AttentionTrust is nice to see, but in my opinion, the idea that users “own” their data and footprints they leave on the web is almost impossible to realize. If oyu have any idea of how this could be done, please leave it in the comments, because I want to get rich ;-)

20070623 vancouver 002

Later, Wayne Hodgins talked about mass personalization. I like his talks a lot (most of the stuff I already knew from his blog), still I disagree with some parts:

  • Mass personalization for me is just a second step in the development. First of all we should have mass enabling, we should allow users to autonomously choose the content they like, and the content should be accessible! Sometime in the future we’ll maybe have some real good recommendation services, but we should first give the control to the people, allow them to create mashups and to remix the content. Adaptability first, then adaptivity!
  • I still don’t get what constitutes a learning object. For me, any resource (this includes real objects that can be referenced via URI, e.g., a building) can be a learning object. That’s why I prefer the term learning resource. In addition to that, I think that the comparison between a learning object and objects in software engineering is not that helpful: It suggests that a learning resource has a well defined input- and ouput behaviour as some software part has - but reality is different in my opinion.
  • I also think that the “lego” metaphor doesn’t fit: Lego parts follow a quite strict definition (concerning length, width, the points of connection, etc), whereas some piece of content has potentially infinite many aspects that have an influence on whether it can be connected to another object or not. I think comparing a learning resource with a piece of lego is dangerous, because people might get the impression that they just can put arbitrary objects together in any prefered way. In reality, this doesn’t work at all.

It was a very inspiring event, and I hope we can continue to work together in this field!!!

Listen to Luis von Ahn.

September 13th, 2006 by Martin

Did you ever ask yourself how to get “good” metadata for your Learning Objects for free? In this great talk available on GoogleVideo, Luis von Ahn is talking about how to motivate users to volunteer for high-quality tagging.

sample tags

To be honest: I’m not sure whether this can be applied to the world of Learning Objects, too. But it’s surely a good thing to start to think about new ways of acquiring metadata…

via computationalculture