Collective Intelligence, Semantic Systems and Social Media: The Bermuda Triangle?
The truly exponential growth of social media at the dawn of the 21st century, led to an overwhelming wealth of content which shifted the future challenge of new media technologies from ‘the wisdom of the crowd’ to harnessing ‘the madness of the masses’. It is not a coincidence that crowd and content filtering as well as understanding the conversations and structuring of social networks have become of paramount importance to businesses and the marketing of their products.
By Epaminondas Kapetanios
In order to succeed in adding a virtual currency to the role of social media in contemporary society, many expectations turned to the pivotal role semantic technology has to play in monetising social media and in a more intelligent and accurate serving of the digital media community. Despite all these significant developments in semantic technology, many of the key challenges still remain. A fully automated extraction of a qualitative ontology, the cultural factors, linguistic nuances and contextualisation are some of the key challenges and research questions still open.
The pivotal role of semantic systems and technologies has also been underlined by recently funded research programs at national and international level, which aim at reflecting and anchoring Collective Intelligence (CI) in symbol manipulation systems. This is due to the fact that Collective Intelligence, as the capacity of human collectives to engage in intellectual synergies in order to create, invent and innovate, is a determining factor in competitiveness and human development in a knowledge based economy or information economy. It is also due to the fact that current semantic systems fail to establish a healthy reflection of CI augmentation and digital networks.
It is, therefore, not a coincidence that the topic of the augmentation of CI through digital networks is still an emerging research area as the extensive body of literature in knowledge management shows and the rise of the Web 2.0 or social computing attests, in spite of the more than 40 years since the foundation of the field by Douglas Engelbart (Augmenting Human Intellect, Stanford Research Institute, 1962).
Moreover, according to some visionaries and intellects, the magic triangle CI-Semantic Systems-Social Media could trigger a next evolutionary step in humanity, which has its counterparts in the pivotal role the invention of phonetic and alphabetic writing system played in the transition from oral cultures myths, narratives and rituals based societies, or the pivotal role the invention of Indo-Arabic numerals , including notation by position and zero, has played in simplifying the Roman numerals and arithmetic, or the pivotal role the invention of the printing press has played in the development of standard scientific notation systems.
To this extent, the research questions we are currently addressing are all located within this magic triangle. They aspire to contribute to some of the chronic issues undermining the pivotal role that new media knowledge could potentially play in the next evolutionary step in humanity. More specifically, we target research questions such as a fresh approach to complexity and scalability issues of semantic systems and reasoning, a better reflection of cultural, contextual and linguistic nuances, extraction of high quality ontology via Formal Concept Analysis, Web search and ontology metrics, search engine optimisation issues, semantic service computing.
Our philosophy, however, is predominantly preoccupied with the merits of systems thinking and dynamics, which shed a new light into the evolutionary aspects of complex adaptive systems. The Web as well as any Social Network and new media knowledge are conceived as an evolving organism or ecosystem, the sustainable and healthy growth of which are subject to conditions or constraints as well as to cost-benefit models and equilibrium theories.
Epaminondas is born in Athens where he studied Statistics and Informatics at the Athens University of Economics and Business (AUEB). Subsequently, he received his M.Sc. degree at the Technical University of Karlsruhe, Germany, Faculty of Computer Science, Institute for Program Structures and Data Organisation, while focusing on the development of Information Systems and Database Technologies. He received his Ph.D. degree at the Institute of Information Systems, Dept. of Computer Science, ETH-Zurich, Switzerland, where he designed and contributed in the implementation of an ontology driven, high level query language (MDDQL). In addition, he has designed, supervised, coordinated and implemented large scale software systems of practical importance and operational use in medical as well as atmospheric research application domains.
Epaminondas is currently holding a position as a Senior Lecturer at the School of Computer Science, University of Westminster, London, UK. He is also co-leading the Centre for Information and Software Systems Engineering (CISSE) as a research group conducting high quality research in Semantic Computing with particular emphasis in Software, Data and Knowledge as well as Web Engineering with the aim of prototyping practical and scalable solutions for today’s challenges of the information society.
His current research interests focus on Collective Intelligence and Digital Ecosystems with their implications on natural language based query languages, natural language processing frameworks, cross-lingual information retrieval, Web collaborative systems, Social Web and Web 2.0 technologies, as well as methodologies and metrics in software design and engineering. He is a member of ACM and has also gained entrepreneurial experience as co-founder of an ETH spin-off company. He has published around 40 articles in peer reviewed journals and conferences and serves on the editorial board as well as a regular reviewer for Journals on Science Citation Indexes. He has also been serving as General and PC chair of the NLDB 2008 and ACM Conference on Digital Ecosystems, respectively.
See more on the author: http://www.uow-cisse.org