Andreas Blumauer, Managing Director for the Semantic Web School, came to Sun in Zürich to give a one day course as part of a four day conference whose main topics was helping relate knowledge and people. We had people fly in from the USA, the UK (Dave Levy and Chris Gerhard), France (me: photo), Austria and Germany. (more pictures).
The very impressive SkillMap java applet opened up the conference laying the ground work for thinking about the relations between people and skills. This was followed by Andreas' one day course which flew the team up to a 50000 foot height, where we all jumped out till we could see the details of the landscape, including rdf, Dublic Core, foaf, doap, skos, sioc, and much more.
The landing was softened by a few demonstrations. I gave a quick presentation on Universal Drag and Drop using an early version of the Beatnik Address Book to demonstrate the simplicity of the concept (another Micro Killer App?). D2RQ as usual opened everyone's eyes, as I gave a demo of SPARQLing Roller. (After the conference, people kept referring to it as R2D2 though...)
Organized by Peter Reiser, sponsored by Dan Berg and Hal Stern, the conference was according to everyone present a huge success. There were quite a number of "aha!" moments and everyone went through at least one. I myself finally got a full overview of the problems large organizations like Sun need to solve in the knowledge management area. We cleared away some major Semantic Web fears, the most important being that it would require a complete retooling of the enterprise. This is perhaps again why D2RQ (and its competitors) are so important. But most of all the idea that by giving everyone in the enterprise a foaf name, one could tag them like any other resource, relate them to other people, documents, processes ... and create an open and flexible space for linking knowledge together was like discovering a new horizon.
Of course no conference goes without good restaurants (and in Switzerland this means fondue) and drinking into the evening. To top it all I went to an amazing restaurant called Clowns & Kalorien which if you ever happen to be in Zürich I highly recommend. All these calories had to be shed somehow, so as luck would have it we had some fresh snow, and I went to Engelberg, a beautiful resort close by (images).