A retrospective of the 5th DBpedia community meeting in California

A belated Happy New Year to all DBpedia enthusiasts !!!

Two weeks of 2016 have already passed and it is about time to reflect on the past three months which were revolving around the 5th DBpedia meeting in the USA.

After 4 successful meetings in Poznan, Dublin, Leipzig and Amsterdam, we thought it is about time to cross the Atlantic and meet the US-part of the DBpedia community. On November 5th 2015, our 5th DBpedia Community meeting was held at the world famous Stanford University, in Palo Alto California.

First and foremost, we would like to thank Michel Dumontier, Associate Professor of Medicine at Stanford University, and hisIMG_20151105_192240  Laboratory for Biomedical Knowledge Discovery for hosting this great event and giving so many US-based DBpedia enthusiasts a platform for exchange and to meet in person. The event was constantly commented on and discussed not just inside University premises but also online, via Twitter #DBpedia  CA. We would also like to thank the rest of the organizers: Pablo Mendes, Marco Fossati, Dimitris Kontokostas and Sebastian Hellmann for devoting a lot of time to plan the meeting and coordinate with the presenters.

We set out to the US with two main goals. Firstly, we wanted DBpedia and Knowledge Graph professionals and enthusiasts to network and discuss ideas about how to improve DBpedia. Secondly, the event also aimed at finding new partners, developers and supporters to help DBpedia grow professionally, in terms of competencies and data, as well as to enlarge the DBpedia community itself to spread the word and to raise awareness of the DBpedia brand.

Therefore, we invited representatives of the best-known actors in the Data community such as:

  • Michel Dumontier, Stanford
  • Anshu Jain, IBM Watson
  • Nicolas Torzec, Yahoo!
  • Yves Raimond, Netflix
  • Karthik Gomadam, Independent
  • Joakim Soderberg, Blippar
  • Alkis Simitsis, HP Labs
  • Yashar Mehdad, Yahoo! Labs

…who addressed interesting topics and together with all the DBpedia enthusiasts engaged in productive discussion and raised controversial questions.


The meeting itself was co-located with an pre-event designed as workshop, giving the attending companies a lot of room and time to raise questions and discuss “hot topics”. Classification schemas and multilingualism have been on top of the list of topics that were most interesting for the companies invited. In this interactive setting, our guest from Evernote, BlippAR, World University and Wikimedia answered questions about the DBpedia ontology and mappings, Wikipedia categories as well as about similarities and differences with Wikidata.

Main Event

Following the pre-event, the main event attracted attendees with lightning talks from major companies interesting to the DBpedia community.

The host of the DBpedia Meeting, Michel Dumontier from Stanford opened the main event with a short introduction of his group’s focus in biomedical data. He and his group currently focus on integrating datasets to extract maximal value from data. Right in the beginning of the DBpedia meeting, Dumontier highlighted the value of already existing yet unexploited data out there.

During the meeting there have been two main thematic foci, onDSC00807e concerning the topics companies were interested in and raised during the session. Experts from Yahoo, Netflix, Diffbot, IBM Watson and Unicode addressed issue such as fact extraction from text via NLP, knowledge base construction techniques and recommender systems leveraging data from a knowledge base and multilingual abbreviation datasets.

The second focus of this event revolved around DBpedia and encyclopedic Knowledge Graphs including augmented reality addressed by BlippAR and by Nuance. We have some of the talks summed up for you here. Also check out the slides provided in addition to the summary of some talks to get a deeper insight into the event.

Nicolas Torzec, Yahoo! – Wikipedia, DBpedia and the Yahoo! Knowledge Graph

He described how DBpedia played a key role in the beginning of the Knowledge Graph effort at Yahoo! They decided on using the Extraction Framework directly, not the provided data dumps, which allowed them to continuously update as Wikipedia changed. Yashar, also from Yahoo! focused on multilingual NE detection and linking. He described how users make financial choices based on availability of products in their local language, which highlights the importance of multilinguality (also a core objective of the DBpedia effort).

Anshu Jain,  IBM Watson  – Watson Knowledge Graph – DBpedia Meetup

The focus of this presentation was the effort by IBM Watson team  their effort as not building a knowledge graph, but building a platform for working with knowledge graphs. For them, graph is just an abstraction, not a data structure. He highlighted that context is very important, and one


Yves Raimond, Netflix – Knowledge Graphs @ NetflixYves Raimond from Netflix observed that in their platform, every impression is a recommendation. They rely on lots of machine learning algorithms, and pondered on the role of knowledge graphs in that setting. Will everything (user + metadata) end up in a graph so that algorithms learn from that?Click here for the complete presentation.

Joakim Soderberg, BlippAR –

Joakim Soderberg mentioned that at Blippar it’s all about the experience. They are focusing on augmented reality, which can benefit from information drawn from many sources including DBpedia.

David Martin, Nuance – using DBpedia with Nuance

David Martin from Nuance talked about how DBpedia is used as a source of named entities. He observes that multi role ranking is an important issue, for instance, the difference in the role of Arnold Schwarzenegger as politician or actor. Click here for the complete presentation.

Karthik Gomadam, Accenture Technology Labs – Rethinking the Enterprise Data Stack

Karthik Gomadam discussed data harmonization in the context of linked enterprise data.

Alkis Simitsis, Hewlett Packard – Complex Graph Computations over Enterprise Data

He talked about complex graph computations over enterprise data, while Georgia Koutrika from HP Labs presented their solution for fusing knowledge into recommendations.

Other topics discussed were:

  • Steven Loomis, IBM – Automatically extracted abbreviated data with Dbpedia
  • Scott McLeod, World University and School – MIT Open Courseware with Wikipedia. Classes in virtual worlds.
  • Diffbot’s developers talked about structuring the Web with their product with the help of DBpedia and DBpedia Spotlight.

You find some more presentations here:


Feedback from attendees and via our Twitter stream #DBpediaCA was generally very positive and insightful. The choice of invited talks was appreciated unanimously, and so was the idea of having lightning talks. In the spirit of previous DBpedia Meetings, we allocated time for all attendees that were interested in speaking. Some commented that they would have liked to have more time to ask questions and discuss, while others thought the meeting was too late. We will consider the trade-offs and try to improve in the next iteration. There was strong support from attendees for meeting again as soon as possible!

So now, we are looking forward to the next DBpedia community meeting which will be held on February 12, 2016 in the Hague, Netherlands. So, save the date and visit the event page. We will keep you informed via the DBpedia Website and Blog.                   

Finally, we would like to thank Yahoo! for sponsoring the catering during the DBpedia community meeting. We would also like to acknowledge Google Summer of Code as the reason Marco and Dimitris were in California and for covering part of their travel expenses.

The event was initiated by the DBpedia association. The following people received travel grants by the DBpedia association: Marco Fossati; Dimitris Kontokostas; Joachim Daiber