Semantic Days in Norway, what makes Norway different?

About 200 people are today and tomorrow gathered in Stavanger, the oil-capital in Norway, for a two-day conference on Semantic Web Technologies.

Ivan Herman gave a tutorial yesterday called “Introduction to the Semantic Web”. It was a to the core-presentation on what makes up the Semantic Web. More than 100 people showed up in the pre-conference tutorial. Ian Horrocks, continued with a deep dive into ontologies most in the domain of life science and health care.

A few things makes Norway different from other contries when it comes to Semantic Web research and adoption.

First there is the factor of Norway being the third largest oil exporter in the world. Norway is a high cost country, the oil and gas is found offshore, and increasingly into the volatile arctic areas. This adds up to good arguments for applying advanced technologies. Because of these factors Norway spends large amounts on research and money to automate and make the oil industry more productive. Research into XML standards, taxonomies and ontologies have been going on here since the 80s. And ontology languages, notably ISO 15926, has been created to model ontologies in this secor.

Secondly there are significant related communities in Norway. The Topic Maps community have been very successful in implementing portal navigation for the Norwegian public sector. This comes in addition to a rather important acticities from the Norwegian registry on standardizing concepts used in the public sector (UML, UN/CEFACT/Core Components)

These two factors colors the program these two days. There are multiple presenations from IBM, Chevron, ConocoPhilips, Hydro, Statoil etc. on semantics in the oil industry. And several tracks on how the Semantic Web standards compares to other public activities, standards and interoperability.

Personally, I would like to see more projects and activities in the area of RDF and OWL in Norway. The rest of the world is adopting these standards and we should be careful to avoid developing our own interoperability standards in a vacuum ignoring the strong currents in the rest of the world .