Libeskind Hélène Binet Writing MachineWriting Machine by Daniel Libeskind. (Photo: Hélène Binet).
Lorentz Center Scientific Workshop


There is no such thing as simple text

Language, Knowledge and People in Perspective

From: Tuesday 18 Apr 2017 through Friday 21 Apr 2017
Venue: Lorentz Center@Snellius

Scientific organizers:
Piek Vossen (Computational Linguistics and Lexicology, VU, Amsterdam)
Lora Aroyo (Human Semantics & Semantic Web, CrowdTruth @IBM/VU, Amsterdam)
Julia Noordegraaf (Media Studies, UvA, Amsterdam)
Ivar Vermeulen (Social Sciences, VU, Amsterdam)
Chris Welty (Massive Scale NLP & Semantics, VU/Google, New York, USA)

Workshop description and aim

Finding knowledge and information on the web is becoming an almost trivial task, understanding its value, the credibility and perspective of its source, on the other hand, is becoming increasingly problematic. While the Internet and other digital modes of communication have made access to knowledge and information much easier, the burden on the users of the Web to filter and judge information has increased. Technology lags behind when it comes to providing users with proper tools to track information provenance, the perspective of the source, and the validity of found information within the abundance of sources. It is a common saying that on the Web you can find any truth that may be convenient to you, yet we have little knowledge about how beliefs actually spread and how this impacts our view on the world. Many questions with respect to the impact of being online will remain unanswered unless we come to grips with these social communication processes. When do online discussions in distributive communities lead to either convergence or polarization? How does social filtering work and does it change as result of online debates? What is the impact on identity and group membership when dealing with convergent or hostile beliefs?

Besides the fact that, nowadays, we can track many social activities on the web and analyze what people ‘talk about’, the language that people use is in itself a source of information about the attitudes and perspectives that people hold. There is no such thing as simple text. We often express our emotions, opinions and positions verbally in subtle ways that can sometimes be made explicit more easily by computer software than by human observers. Automatic mining of subjectivity and perspective relations from language could be exploited to learn more on the impact of communication on the Web. The availability of digital data at all these different levels opens up the unique opportunity to dynamically model information, knowledge and mediated communication as well as their social implications. This can be done from the lowest micro-level of symbolic data (such as texts), to interpretation and knowledge, up to the higher macro-levels of (1) social groups and identity, (2) social activity and dynamics, and (3) societal impact.

The proposed workshop aims to set the research agenda for an interdisciplinary approach to model information, knowledge and mediated communication from the micro-level up to the macro-level. Our vision is that such integrated models will allow us to: a) develop technologies that make the spreading of and perspective on knowledge explicit and transparent, b) measure the impact communication have on our world views and beliefs as shown by social activities and measurable choices, and c) increase people’s awareness of the tacit meanings that knowledge and information may carry.

Preliminary Workshop Program

Day 1 – Tuesday April 18, 2017 — Getting started

Introduction: Piek Vossen 10:00 11:00
Who is who? 11:00 12:30
Lunch 12:30 14:00
Industry & Application perspective 14:00 15:30
Coffee break 15:30 16:00
Plenary discussion on future collaborations and projects with industry 16:00 17:00
Welcome reception

Day 2 – Wednesday April 19, 2017
The computational perspective: from micro level symbols to interpretations

09:00 10:00
10:00 11:00
11:00 11:30
Coffee break 11:30 12:00
Breakout session 12:00 13:00
Lunch 13:00 14:30
Plenary presentations & posters/demos 14:30 15:30
Coffee break 15:30 16:00
Plenary discussion 16:00 17:00
Workshop dinner

Day 3 – Thursday April 20, 2017
The impact perspective: from social structures to dynamics and impact

09:00 10:00
10:00 11:00
Coffee break 11:00 11:30
Breakout session 11:30 12:30
Lunch 12:30 14:30
Plenary presentations & posters/demos 14:30 15:30
Coffee break 15:30 16:00
Plenary discussion 16:00 17:00

Day 4 – Friday April 21, 2017
Wrap-up, synthesis and future plans

Summary presentations and synthesis: from symbols to impact 09:30 10:30
Coffee break 10:30 11:15
Breakout session 11:15 12:00
Lunch 12:00 14:00
Keynote 14:00 15:00
Roadmap and future actions 15:00 16:00

“A Societal Debate: Vaccines!” Piek Vossen at the Lustrum conference ‘Connected World’ March 2016“A Societal Debate: Vaccines!” Piek Vossen at ‘Connected World’ conference March 2016.

“We do not live in the Information Society: FREE ACCESS TO INFORMATION AND KNOWLEDGE.


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