Wednesday, May 23, 2007

23 May 2007: Final AKT

It's time to dispel some rumours.

  • There will be no immediate takeover of Southampton Football Club. Yes, they're in a bid situation, but nothing is imminent and it may be that missing out on promotion means Saints are much more likely to be the next Leeds rather than the next Chelsea.
  • My head operation went well and I am alive and healthy, despite the frighteningly massive gash and stitches currently on display to anyone slightly taller than me. The surgery took a little over thirty minutes, the first twenty of which were spent trying to stop the bleeding that took place after the initial incision. Conversation (local anaesthetic, you see) went as follows:
    Doctor Armstrong: You've got a very healthy heart.
    Me: Why do you say that?
    Doctor Armstrong: You're bleeding heavily.
    Stitches come out next Tuesday.
  • Virgin births are possible among sharks, although any babies will only ever have mummy DNA and thus will be girls. Raising the interesting if theologically unsound notion that Jesus could, just possibly, have been a female shark.
  • This blog is not actually about AKT, nor has it ever been. Proof of this will be evidenced by the next blog entry after this one, because today is the final day of AKT, ever.

To give a little background to the uninitiated (which, frankly, is most of the world, including a number of people in my research group), AKT stands for Advanced Knowledge Technologies and has been a six-year five-university research project aimed at inter-disciplinary research. Admittedly, it would be fairer to label it inter-sub-disciplinary since almost everyone involved is a Computer Scientist in some way (even me), but still it's been all about promoting smart computing which, almost since the start, has meant 'Semantic Web'.

The Semantic Web, of course, may in time turn out to be another myth to be dispelled, but for now it's Sir Tim's vision of a web where URIs are used to represent things with some degree of consistency, RDF is used to describe the relationships between these things, and SPARQL is a query language where you can ask about such relationships. Of course, there's a lot more to it than that (rdf:seeAlso ontology), and there's something about owls in there too, but essentially that's the vision. And since 2001, AKT has been pursuing this with a fair degree of effort.

And today it ends. Some people from the Research Council are in town, along with a few other important folks, to review the project, look at some posters and have a spot of lunch. Us AKTors are gathered for the final time, hawking our wares (and indeed wearing our hawks) and generally showing off. From my perspective it's a little weird to be wearing a collar and tie and yet also have a huge gash in my head, but it's worth it for a project that has not only funded my PhD but helped me learn a lot about the semantic web, citation analysis and supervisors with too much on their plate (not necessarily in that order). I just hope they don't notice the scar and start asking about that instead of my work.

On the other hand, maybe I'll just tell them that now AKT has finished, they've let me take the implant out.

Be afraid...


Becky said...

Blimey, sounds momentous! The AKTing thing, I mean, rather than the head wound - but I am sure that is fairly momentous too.

So, what will you do next? Get a proper job?

DuncMcRae said...

Actually, I'm already employed on a post-AKT project since the PhD funding finished back in September. So I'll carry on with that... still wrestling with owls and making ontologies and stuff. Worryingly, they just filmed my presentation for posterity (or more likely 'some web archive where no-one will ever look') so I'll forever be 'That AKTor With The Gash In His Head'. Sheesh, timing...

Becky said...

I just looked up ontologies and owls etc. and am still not much the wiser ... think I'm reasonably happy to have that sort of thing pass over my head though, much in the way I was content to let my sister's engineering degree gubbins do likewise when she was trying to get me to help her revise (she wants to be a maths teacher now anyway). I'll just stick to stuff I know about, like books and football and ... books ... and ... hmmm.

Bad luck about the head gash. It might have earned you some notoriety in the AKTing world though:

"Have you met that Duncan McRae-Spencer?"
"Is he the one with the mysterious head wound?"

Something like that can follow you for years - some people from Ben's work still only know him as "that bloke who fell over a dog into a stream at the Postlip Beer festival".

Anonymous said...

that Ph.D. lark will never catch on anyway; worthless I tell you!

Prof. Sir Dr. McDoug