Web and Media at ICT.OPEN2017

On 21 and 22 March, researchers from VU’s Web and Media group attended ICT.OPEN, the principal ICT research conference in the Netherlands. Here over 500 scientists from all ICT research disciplines & interested researchers from industry come together to learn from each other, share ideas and network. The conference featured some great keynote speeches, including one from Nissan’s Erik Vinkhuyzen on the role of anthropological and sociological research to develop better self-driving cars.  Barbara Terhal from Aachen University gave a challenging, but well-presented talk on the challenges regarding robustness for quantum computing.

As last year, the Web and Media group this year was well represented through multiple oral presentations with accompanying posters and demonstrations :

  • Oana Inel, Carlos Martinez and Victor de Boer presented DIVEplus. Oana did such a good job presenting the project in the main programme (see Oana’s DIVE+@ICTOpen2017 slides), through the demo and in front of a poster that the poster was selected as best Poster in the SIKS track.
  • Benjamin Timmermans, Tobias Kuhn and Tibor Vermeij presented the Controcurator project with a demonstration and poster presentation. In the demo the ControCurator human-machine framework for identifying controversy in multimodal data is shown.
  • Tobias Kuhn discussed “Genuine Semantic Publishing” in the Computer Science track on the first day. His slides can be found here. After the talk there was a very interesting discussion about the role of the narrative writing process and how it would relate to semantic publishing.
  • Ronald Siebes and Victor de Boer then discussed how Big and Linked Data technologies developed in the Big Data Europe project are used to deliver pharmacological web-services for drug discovery. You can read more in Ronald’s blog post.
  • Benjamin Timmermans and Zoltan Zslavik also presented the CrowdTruth demonstrator, which is shown in this short demonstrator video.
  • Sabrina Sauer presented the MediaNow project with a nice poster titled MediaNow – using a living lab method to understand media professionals’ exploratory search.

 

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Hands on BDE Health at ICT.OPEN 2017

[This post was written by Ronald Siebes and crossposted at big-data-europe.eu and wm.cs.vu.nl]

Last week, BigDataEurope was present at the principal ICT research conference in the Netherlands, ICT.OPEN, where over 500 scientists from all ICT research disciplines & interested researchers from industry come together to learn from each other, share ideas and network.

This is the first time that the NWO, the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research, added the “Health” track, a recognition of the increased importance of ICT in the domain of diagnosis, drug discovery and health-care. We presented a short paper written by Ronald Siebes, Victor de Boer, Bryn Williams-Jones, Kiera McNeice and Stian Soiland-Reyes covering the current state of the SC1 “Health, demographic change and well-being” pilot which implements the Open PHACTS functionality on the Big Data Europe infrastructure.

We succeeded to demonstrate the ease of use and practical value of the SC1 pilot for researchers in the domain of Drug Discovery and developers of Big Linked Data solutions and are looking forward to further strengthen our collaboration with the various. The paper was accepted as a poster presentation but also selected for an oral presentation at the “Health & ICT” track.

 

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Big Data Europe Youtube channel

For those curious about the Big Data Europe technology stack and who rather view videos than read descriptions and documentation, we have started a youtube video channel where BDE researchers explain the how, why and what of the BDE stack. Embedded below is a short clip of Hajira Jabeen explaining how BDE enables someone to get started with Big Data. More clips are available on the channel.

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ICT4D 2017 promo video

As a teaser for our upcoming ICT4D students. Have a look at this nice video that André Baart made

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Speech technology and colorization for audiovisual archives

[This post describes and is based on Rudy Marsman‘s MSc thesis and is partly based on a Dutch blog post by him]

The Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision (NISV) archives Dutch broadcast TV and makes it available to researchers, professionals and the general public. One subset are the Polygoonjournaals (Public News broadcasts) that are published under open licenses as part of the OpenImages platform. NISV is also interested in exploring new ways and technologies to make interaction with the material easier and to increase exposure to their archives. In this context, Rudy explored two options.

Two stills from the film ‘Steegjes‘, with the right frame colorized. Source: Polygoon-Profilti (producent) / Nederlands Instituut voor Beeld en Geluid  / colorized by Rudy Marsman, CC BY-SA

One part of the research was the autonomous colorization of old black-and-white video footage using Neural Networks. Rudy used a pre-trained NN (Zhang et al 2016) that is able to colorize black and white images. Rudy developed a program to split videos into frames, colorize the individual frames using the NN and then ‘stitch’ them back together into colorized videos. The stunning results were very well received by NISV employees. Examples are shown below.


Tour de France 1954 (colorized by Rudy Marsman in 2016), Polygoon-Profilti (producent) / Nederlands Instituut voor Beeld en Geluid (beheerder), CC-BY SA

Results from the comparison of the different variants of the method on different corpora
Results from the comparison of the different variants of the method on different corpora

In the other part of his research, Rudy investigated to what extent the existing news broadcast corpus, with a voice-overs from the famous Philip Bloemendal  can be used to develop a modern text-to-speech engine with his voice. To do so he have mainly focused on natural language processing and the determination to what extent the language used by Bloemendal in the 1970s is still comparable enough to contemporary Dutch.

Rudy used precompiled automatic speech recognition (ASR) results to match words to sounds and developed a slot-and-filler text-to-speech system based on this. To increase the limited vocabulary, he implemented a number of strategies, including term-expansion through the use of Open Dutch Wordnet and smart decompounding (this mostly works for Dutch, mapping ‘sinterklaasoptocht’ to ‘sinterklaas’ and ‘optocht’. The different strategies were compared to a baseline. Rudy found that a combination of the two resulted in the best performance (see figure). For more information:

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ArchiMediaL proposal granted by Volkswagen Stiftung

Volkswagen stiftung letterI received a good news letter from Volkswagen Stiftung who decided to award us a research grant for a 3-year Digital Humanities project named “ArchiMediaL” around architectural history. This project will be a collaboration between  architecture historians from TU Delft,  computer scientists from TU Delft and VU-Web and Media. A number of German scholars will also be involved as domain experts. The project will combine image analysis software with crowdsourcing and semantic linking to create networks of visual resources which will foster understanding of understudied areas in architectural history.
From the proposal:In the mind of the expert or everyday user, the project detaches the digital images from its existence as a single artifact and includes it into a global network of visual sources, without disconnecting it from its provenance. The project that expands the framework of hermeneutic analysis through a quantitative reference system, in which discipline-specific canons and limitations are questions. For the dialogue between the history of architecture and urban form this means a careful balancing of qualitative and quantitative information and of negotiating new methodological approaches for future investigation.

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A Look Back at the 2nd BDE Workshop on Big Data in Health, Demographic Change and Wellbeing

[reblogged from Big-Data-Europe.eu]

On 9 December 2016, the second workshop for the Big Data Europe Health, Demographic Change and Wellbeing societal challenge was held in Brussels. The aim of this workshop was to highlight progress from the BigDataEurope project in building the foundations of a generically applicable big data platform which can be applied across all Horizon 2020 societal challenges. This workshop specifically focused on health, and showcased our first pilot’s application to early bioscience research data.

The workshop in full effect

The workshop had 15 participants, from within the health domain and outside it, including many participants from the European Commission. Together we discussed different perspectives on how we may use appropriate H2020 instruments and work programmes to better integrate the ecosystem of linked data repositories, data management services and virtual collaboration environments to increase the pace of knowledge sharing in health.

The workshop featured presentations from BDE’s Simon Scerri and Aad Versteden on the general goals and progress of the BigDataEurope project and the BDE infrastructure respectively. After lunch, Ronald Siebes (BDE / VU Amsterdam) presented the first pilot in this specific domain. More information on that pilot can be found here. An extensive round-table discussion followed, in which possible options for new applications and connections were considered.

Snapshot of the SC1 pilot interface, as presented by Ronald Siebes

One question raised was whether the generic BDE infrastructure can be used by European SMEs. The fact that the BDE infrastructure is completely Open Source, very easy to install and features intuitive interface components makes re-use relatively simple even for smaller institutions and companies.

A significant part of the discussion focussed on possible new use cases for expanding the scope of the pilot. One suggestion was to look at post-hoc integration of clinical data, which represents a typical problem of data ‘variance’. This would require integrating information from different versions of medical questionnaires, which may be recorded or stored in different ways. Data provenance is also a key concern, as keeping a trail of what has happened to clinical data is crucial to tracking patients’ histories. Once integrated, this data could then be mined to identify biases or data patterns.

Finally, the workshop participants discussed potential connections to other European projects. Here many projects were mentioned including the MIDAS project, the Big-O project on childhood obesity, the PULSE projects and IMI / IMI2 projects including EMIF. We will be seeking collaborations with these projects and will continue to develop new and interesting Big Data use cases in this domain in the coming year.

More images can be found below: BDE Health Workshop SC 1.2

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Web of Voices and W4RA video at the Webscience@10 TV Channel

For its 10th anniversary, the Web Science Trust organized an event Webscience@10. For this event, a Webscience@10 TV channel was launched to showcase different research and education initatives around the world. On behalf of the VU Network Institute and W4RA, we submitted our Web of Voices video as well as a short introduction to the W4RA team.

You can watch the ~10 hours of video content at  http://www.webscience.org/webscience10/tv-channel-webscience10/. You can find us (listed under Netwerk Institute Amsterdam) at 2h31mins:

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Niels’ paper awarded first Bob Wielinga award at EKAW

Niels Ockeloen’s paper on Data2Documents was awarded the first Bob Wielinga memorial award for best research paper at the 20th International Conference on Knowledge Engineering and Knowledge Management (EKAW2016). “Data 2 Documents: Modular and distributive content management in RDF” was authored by Niels Ockeloen, Victor de Boer, Tobias Kuhn and Guus Schreiber from the Web and Media group.. The paper describes Niels’ PhD. work on a method for creating human readable web documents out of machine readable Linked Data, focussing on modularity and re-use. You can view the slides for Niels’ presentation slides here

Niels wins Best Paper Award

The award is named after Prof. Bob Wielinga, one of the most prominent European scientists in the area of knowledge-based systems, best known for his work on the KADS methodology, who has been one of the key influences on the development of the area in the past three decades. Bob was both my own and Guus Schreiber’s promotor so this makes it extra-special for us. In 2009 he was also appointed at our department, where he continued supervising PhD students until he passed away earlier this year. It is especially nice that the award, which was named after Bob Wielinga goes to work that is not only authored by people from Amsterdam but also work that Bob at some point discussed with Niels in the Basket, before his passing.

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W4RA research displayed in Museon

In modern day research, dissemination is key and it is therefore always nice to see research results being shared with the public in new and unforseen ways. Our work within the Web for Regreening in Africa (W4RA) is now part of a exhibition in the Museon museum in the Hague. The exhibition focuses on the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030. As content partner of the Museon, the W4RA programme of VU has contributed ideas, visuals and texts for the exposition related to SDG No. 15, entitled “Plant in het Zand” (Plant in the sand).museon exhibition images

From the press release: Land degradation and desertification are increasing due to both natural and human causes, including climate change and population pressures. Areas can no longer meet the needs of their populations, with famine and poverty as a result. There are various solutions, but regreening – the natural (re)generation and protection of trees by local farmers themselves – is a highly successful one. Belts of trees act as windbreaks, helping to stop soil blowing away, keeping it moist for longer, and providing a micro-climate that is better for people, animals and plants. Trees also provide food and many other economically useful products.

Within the W4RA programme, we integrate local ICT web and mobile app innovations to support local knowledge sharing around regreening efforts.

 

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