Thursday, October 28, 2004

Day 2 at the SW/LS Workshop

Day two of the W3C Semantic Web in Life Sciences Workshop (agenda).

I watched the full lunar eclipse last night. We had a perfect view of it from Providence, Rhode Island where my sister-in-law lives. One can just imagine how scary that kind of event must have been to primitive agricultural societies with celestially-oriented mythologies. The moon turned a beautiful blood red at passage. The goddess certainly appeared angry, but I doubt the harvest will fail this year.

The keynote this morning was given by Ken Buetow (Director, National Cancer Institute Center for Bioinformatics) on the Cancer Bioinformatics Grid (caBIG). This is a huge project funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to the tune of US$20M for the first year and $30M for the second year. This is a pilot study and will attract further funding if successful. caBIG is probably the best-funded semantic project on the planet at the moment.

Sean Martin (IBM) said, "We haven't even begun using I.T. in the biology research community yet." Scary as it may sound, it collaborates the comments from Ted Slator about Excel and Powerpoint yesterday. IBM's paper on their Semantic Layered Research Platform is here. Their system purports to do a lot of things Tucana does currently, but it was described at a prototype, with no plans to release it for the moment. It will be interesting to keep an eye on it.

There has been a lot of discussion today on Life Science Identifiers (LSIDs). The community does not seem to grasp the difference between URIs and URNs. LSIDs are URNs (and therefore URIs), but some people seem to want them to be URLs (inclusive of location information).

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