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Conference Report


D-Lib Magazine
October 2006

Volume 12 Number 10

ISSN 1082-9873

Report on the 5th European Networked Knowledge Organization Systems/Services (NKOS) Workshop


Traugott Koch
University of Bath
Bath BA2 7AY, UK

Red Line


The 5th European Networked Knowledge Organization Systems/Services (NKOS) Workshop, organized by Traugott Koch, Douglas Tudhope, Marianne Lykke Nielsen and Sebastian Ryszard Kruk took place on September 21 in Alicante, Spain, as part of ECDL 2006. The full-day workshop was attended by 30 colleagues from 18 countries on 4 continents. All presentations are available on the Workshop website <>.

NKOS is a community of researchers, developers and practitioners seeking to enable knowledge organization systems (KOS) (e.g., classifications, gazetteers, lexical databases, ontologies, taxonomies and thesauri) as networked interactive terminology and knowledge organization services via the Internet.

A good number of submissions and thorough peer review resulted in a high quality and comprehensive program. We managed to a certain degree to follow our ambitions to provide more focus and to expand discussion time. The regular common workshop dinner provided an opportunity for further discussion and planning active collaboration.

As usual, continuity and renewal characterized the event. We tend to follow certain groups and areas of work regularly over time and also manage to attract an equal number of new presenters and participants from NKOS, but also from related communities, such as Language Engineering and Linguistics, Metadata, Knowledge Management, Information Retrieval and Semantic Web.

The first session of the workshop (chaired by Douglas Tudhope) discussed the representation of and mapping between different KOS and the provision of terminology web services. Following up on earlier presentations at NKOS workshops, Margherita Sini talked about the FAO's work with OWL (Web Ontology Language) modelling of the multilingual AGROVOC thesaurus and continued steps towards an Agriculture Ontology Service. Advanced solutions are necessary in such a large scale KOS and varied service application. OWL and SKOS (Simple Knowledge Organisation System) seem to offer at least important parts of the knowledge representation required.

Dennis Nicholson presented pilot web services solutions based on SRW (Search/Retrieve Web service) with the aim of making terminologies and mappings available, under development in the present phase III of the UK HILT project.

Marianne Lykke Nielsen chaired the traditional user oriented session (User participation and semantic components). Susan Price from Portland State University, USA, discussed the evaluation of indexing efforts by professional users applying the innovative semantic components model on the intersection between traditional keyword indexing of complete documents and mark-up of text segments.

Jean-Claude Ziswiler, University of Geneva, Switzerland, updated us on recent developments related to the creation of hyperbooks from information fragments using small domain ontologies: an empirical study with students applying social usage-based weighting of semantic relations between ontologies.

The full step "out" to participative user and community-based services, previously not a focus of NKOS workshops, was taken by Jacob Voss from Wikimedia Germany. He provided insights into the informal knowledge organization growing collectively in the context of the wikipedias in many languages, with surprising parallels to traditional knowledge organisation systems (such as the DDC classification) and demonstrated expected benefits from the application of established knowledge organization methods to participatory knowledge systems. The discussion indicated that this appears to be a very fruitful area of collaboration, certainly a regular theme in future NKOS workshops.

Through a formal cooperation with a group of European Union funded projects in the field of the Semantic Web, this year's workshop offered a "Semantic Web Special Session", chaired by Bernhard Haslhofer. For several years, colleagues from the Semantic Web community have been presenting at NKOS events. This year, several presentations referred to and applied selected technologies and approaches emanating from it. Sebastian Ryszard Kruk from the Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI) in Ireland presented building blocks from several European projects, illustrating the role of ontologies in creating what he calls "Semantic Digital Libraries". The goal of NKOS has always been to show that Digital Libraries have to be "semantic"; otherwise they are not really libraries but rather piles of data.

Alistair Miles from CCLRC, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, UK, who has kept NKOS colleagues involved in the development of W3C's SKOS RDF Schema throughout several years, presented the outline of a Theory of Retrieval Using Structured Vocabularies. The theory is also expected to assist in the next steps towards the standardization of SKOS by enabling specification of formal requirements via a comparative analysis of a set of use cases.

Session 4 (chaired by Traugott Koch) devoted considerable time, and engendered lively discussions, to a major focus topic of this workshop: a further development of a KOS Typology. Douglas Tudhope, University of Glamorgan in Wales, presented earlier and increasingly elaborate efforts (NKOS has dealt with the issue since 2000) and proposed new i.e., faceted and use context related approaches towards a KOS of KOS. The principle usefulness of a typology (as opposed to a registry of KOS instances) and the scope of such a typology were debated especially.

Important work was on display as well in the usual concluding briefing session (chair: Stella Dextre Clarke) about ongoing projects. Close to being papers in their own right, the briefings might well evolve into full papers for next year's NKOS workshop.

Marianne Lykke Nielsen, from the Royal School of Library and Information Science in Denmark, presented a case study comparing manual and automated indexing in the context of workplace information retrieval, with surprising results. Lois Delcambre, Portland State University, showed an approach for exploring intrinsic organization of knowledge as contained in user interfaces. Stella Dextre Clarke provided an update of the work being done to revise the UK BSI Standard on "Structured vocabularies for information retrieval", now focusing on the parts addressing multilingual vocabularies, mapping, and formats and protocols for interoperability. Contributions were invited.

One highly welcome and provocative presentation was by Martin Doerr, from ICS FORTH in Greece, who asked us to "wake up from our dogmatic slumber" and to follow his alternative approach to knowledge management for Digital Libraries.

Several presentations and themes resulted in ambitions for practical collaboration efforts: a NKOS task force is expected to carry forward the work to further scope and develop a typology and an approach to a registry of KOS. Cooperative efforts will assist in the description of use cases and the further modelling of the mapping methodology in SKOS. It is hoped that many NKOS colleagues will contribute to the further evolution of standards for structured vocabularies.

The main forum for all of this is the international NKOS discussion list. Information about how to subscribe and to share the work is available at the international NKOS website <>.

Recently, a special issue on NKOS, based upon earlier NKOS workshops, was published by the "New Review of Hypermedia and Multimedia" (see the journal website <>).

Further information on this 5th European NKOS workshop along with links to all presentations can be found on the workshop website at <>.


Copyright © 2006 Traugott Koch

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