Presenting the CARPA project

The ICT4D project CARPA, funded by NWO-WOTRO had its first stakeholder workshop today at the Amsterdam Business School of UvA. From our project proposal: The context for CARPA (Crowdsourcing App for Responsible Production in Africa) lies in sustainable and responsible business. Firms are under increasing pressure to ensure sustainable, responsible production in their supply chains.. Lack of transparency about labour abuses and environmental damages has led some firms to cease purchases from the region

The first stakeholder workshop at #UvA of #CAPRA project on developing an #ict4d crowdsourcing app for responsible production in #Africa #NWO#WOTRO @AndreBaart @marcelworring pic.twitter.com/sgfTb2P2XE

— Victor de Boer (@victordeboer) May 15, 2018

.With an interdisciplinary partnership of local NGOs and universities in DRC, Mali, and South Africa, this project aims to generate new evidence-based knowledge to improve transparency about business impacts on responsible production.

Co-creating a smartphone application, we will use crowdsourcing methods to obtain reports of negative social and environmental business impacts in these regions, and follow them over time to understand access to justice and whether and how remediation of such impacts occurs. Data integration and visualization methods will identify patterns in order to provide context and clarity about business impacts on sustainability over time. A website will be developed to provide ongoing public access to this data, including a mapping function pinpointing impact locations.

The project will be led by Michelle Westermann-Behaylo from UvA, with the research work on the ground being executed by UvA’s Francois Lenfant and Andre Baart. Marcel Worring and myself are involved in supervisory roles.

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Presenting the CARPA project

The ICT4D project CARPA, funded by NWO-WOTRO had its first stakeholder workshop today at the Amsterdam Business School of UvA. From our project proposal: The context for CARPA (Crowdsourcing App for Responsible Production in Africa) lies in sustainable and responsible business. Firms are under increasing pressure to ensure sustainable, responsible production in their supply chains.. Lack of transparency about labour abuses and environmental damages has led some firms to cease purchases from the region

The first stakeholder workshop at #UvA of #CAPRA project on developing an #ict4d crowdsourcing app for responsible production in #Africa #NWO#WOTRO @AndreBaart @marcelworring pic.twitter.com/sgfTb2P2XE

— Victor de Boer (@victordeboer) May 15, 2018

.With an interdisciplinary partnership of local NGOs and universities in DRC, Mali, and South Africa, this project aims to generate new evidence-based knowledge to improve transparency about business impacts on responsible production.

Co-creating a smartphone application, we will use crowdsourcing methods to obtain reports of negative social and environmental business impacts in these regions, and follow them over time to understand access to justice and whether and how remediation of such impacts occurs. Data integration and visualization methods will identify patterns in order to provide context and clarity about business impacts on sustainability over time. A website will be developed to provide ongoing public access to this data, including a mapping function pinpointing impact locations.

The project will be led by Michelle Westermann-Behaylo from UvA, with the research work on the ground being executed by UvA’s Francois Lenfant and Andre Baart. Marcel Worring and myself are involved in supervisory roles.

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Trip Report: WebConf 2018

I had the pleasure of attending the Web Conference 2018 in Lyon last week along with my colleague Corey Harper . This is the 27th addition of the largest conference on the World Wide Web. I have tremendous difficulty  not calling it WWW but I’ll learn! Instead of doing two trip reports the rest of this is a combo of Corey and my thoughts. Before getting to what we took away as main themes of the conference let’s look at the stats and organization:

Opening ceremony at #TheWebConf @TheWebConf 2018 in Lyon France. General acceptance rate 15%, check the detailed track acceptance rate for detailed information. A+ conference, very competitive. pic.twitter.com/WmPq0TGjIc

— Claudia De Los Rios Perez – cladep (@cladep1) April 25, 2018

It’s also worth pointing out that this is just the research track. There were 27 workshops,  21 tutorials, 30 demos (Paul was co-chair), 62 posters, four collocated conferences/events, 4 challenges, a developer track and programming track, a project track, an industry track, and… We are probably missing something as well. Suffice to say, even with the best work of the organizers it was hard to figure out what to see. Organizing an event with 2200+ attendees is a thing is a massive task – over 80 chairs were involved not to mention the PC and the local heavy lifting. Congrats to Fabien, Pierre-Antoine, Lionel and the whole committee for pulling it off.  It’s also great to see as well that the proceedings are open access and available on the web.

This is what it takes to run a Web conference of 2,300 people #TheWebConf pic.twitter.com/cenw61WIQG

— Wendy Hall (@DameWendyDBE) April 27, 2018

Given the breadth of the conference, we obviously couldn’t see everything but from our interests we pulled out the following themes:

  • Dealing with a Polluted Web
  • Tackling Tabular Data
  • Observational Methods
  • Scientific Content as a Driver

Dealing with a Polluted Web

The Web community is really owning it’s responsibility to help mitigate the destructive uses to which the Web is put. From the “Recoding Black Mirror” workshop, which we were sad to miss, through the opening keynote and the tracks on Security and Privacy and Fact Checking, this was a major topic throughout the conference.

Oxford professor Luciano Floridi gave an excellent first keynote  on “The Good Web” which addressed this topic head on. He introduced a number of nice metaphors to describe what’s going on:

  • Polluting agents in the Web ecosystem are like extremphiles, making the environment hostile to all but themselves
  • Democracy in some contexts can be like antibiotics: too much gives growth to antibiotic resistant bacteria.
  • His takeaway is that we need a bit of paternalism in this context now.

His talk was pretty compelling,  you can check out the full video here.

Additionally, Corey was able to attend the panel discussion that opened the “Journalism, Misinformation, and Fact-Checking” track, which included representation from the Credibility Coalition, the International Fact Checking Network, MIT, and WikiMedia. There was a discussion of how to set up economies of trust in the age of attention economies, and while some panelists agreed with Floridi’s call for some paternalism, there was also a warning that some techniques we might deploy to mitigate these risks could lead to “accidental authoritarianism.” The Credibility Coalition also provided an interesting review of how to define credibility indicators for news looking at over 16 indicators of credibility.

We were able to see parts of the “Web and Society track”, which included a number of papers related to social justice oriented themes. This included an excellent paper that showed how recommender systems in social networks often exacerbate and amplify gender and racial disparity in social network connections and engagement. Additionally, many papers addressed the relationship between the mainstream media and the web. (e.g. political polarization and social media, media and public attention using the web).

Some more examples: The best demo was awarded to a system that automatically analyzed privacy policies of websites and summarized them with respect to GDPR and:

presented at @TheWebConf today! spoiler alert: your secrets are not safe, so do not "browse like no one's watching".

full paper here: https://t.co/PIJKRx13dp #TheWebConf pic.twitter.com/KCwNKkNGiI

— uc (@yuxiwu) April 26, 2018

More generally, it seems the question is how do we achieve quality assessment at scale?

Tackling Tabular Data

Knowledge graphs and heterogenous networks (there was a workshop on that) were a big part of the conference. Indeed the test of time paper award went to the original Yago paper. There were a number of talks about improving knowledge graphs for example for improving on question answering tasks, determining attributes that are needed to complete a KG or improving relation extraction. While tables have always been an input to knowledge graph construction (e.g. wikpedia infoboxes), an interesting turn was towards treating tabular data as a focus area.

As Natasha Noy from Google noted in her  keynote at the SAVE-SD workshop,  this is an area with a number of exciting research challenges:img_0034_google_savesd.jpg

There was a workshop on data search with a number of papers on the theme. In that workshop, Maarten de Rijke gave a keynote on the work his team has been doing in the context of data search project with Elsevier.

In the main track, there was an excellent talk on Ad-Hoc Table Retrieval using Semantic Similarity. They looked at finding semantically central columns to provide a rank list of columns. More broadly they are looking at spreadsheet compilation as the task (see smarttables.cc and the dataset for that task.) Furthermore, the paper Towards Annotating Relational Data on the Web with Language Models looked at enriching tables through linking into a knowledge graph.

Observational Methods

Observing  user behavior has been a part of research on the Web, any web search engine is driven by that notion. What did seem to be striking is the depth of the observational data being employed. Prof. Lorrie Cranor gave an excellent keynote on the user experience of web security (video here). Did you know that if you read all the privacy policies of all the sites you visit it wold take 244 hours per year? Also, the idea of privacy as nutrition labels is pretty cool:

@lorrietweet talking about the advantages of privacy labels modeled after nutrition labels #thewebconf pic.twitter.com/CCGYd75k2p

— Paul Groth (@pgroth) April 27, 2018

But what was interesting was her labs use of an observatory of 200 participants who allowed their Windows home computers to be instrumented. This kind of instrumentation gives deep insight into how users actually use their browsers and security settings.

Another example of deep observational data, was the use of mouse tracking on search result pages to detect how people search under anxiety conditions:

Important work – on mouse tracking of search for people under anxiety – but brings a lot of ethical questions https://t.co/D4SUUg4tec @MSFTResearch #TheWebConf pic.twitter.com/91W03CzWpS

— Paul Groth (@pgroth) April 25, 2018

In the paper by Wei Sui and co-authors on Computational Creative Advertisements presented at the HumL workshop – they use in-home facial and video tracking to measure emotional response to ads by volunteers.

The final example was the use of FMRI scans to track brain activity of participants during web search tasks. All these examples provide amazing insights into how people use these technologies but as these sorts of methods are more broadly adopted, we need to make sure to adopt the kinds of safe-guards adopted by these researchers – e.g. consent, IRBs, anonymization.

Scientific Content as a Driver

It’s probably our bias but we saw a lot of work tackling scientific content. Probably because it’s both interesting and provides a number of challenges. For example, the best paper of the conference (HighLife) was about extracting n-ary relations for knowledge graph construction motivated by the need for such types of relations in creating biomedical knowledge graphs. The aforementioned work on tabular data often is motivated by the needs of research. Obviously SAVE-SD covered this in detail:

In the demo track, the etymo.io search engine was presented to summarize and visualization of scientific papers. Kuansan Wang at the BigNet workshop talked about Microsoft Academic Search and the difficulties and opportunities in processing so much scientific data.

IMG_0495.JPG

Paul gave a keynote at the same workshop also using science as the motivation for new methods for building out knowledge graphs. Slides below:

In the panel, Structured Data on the Web 7.0, Google’s Evgeniy Gabrilovich – creator of the Knowledge Vote – noted the challenges of getting highly correct data for Google’s Medical Knowledge graph and that doing this automatically is still difficult.

Finally, using DOIs for studying persistent identifier use over time on the Web.

Wrap-up

Overall, we had a fantastic web conference. Good research, good conversations and good food:

An amazing #dinerdegala at #TheWebConf with privatization of @LesHallesdeLyon. As a lyonnaise I’ve never seen that, it wa so delicious ! pic.twitter.com/vfcGHLtUe0

— Maud Charaf (@maudcharaf) April 27, 2018

Random Thoughts

 

Source: Think Links

Posted in Paul Groth, Staff Blogs

A look back at UCDS at ICT.Open2018

Two weeks ago, ICT.Open2018 was held in Amersfoort. This event brings together Computer Science researchers from all over the Netherlands and our research group was present with many posters and presentations.

We even won a prize! (Well, a 2nd place prize, but awesome nonetheless). Xander Wilcke presented work on using Knowledge Graphs for Machine Learning. He was awarded the runner-up prize for best poster presentation at ICTOpen2018. Congrats!

The knowledge graph for end-to-end learning poster at #ictopen2018 check it out at stand nr 4 @UserCentricDS pic.twitter.com/3INrp63lN9

— Victor de Boer (@victordeboer) March 19, 2018

 

Ronald Siebes presented work in the ArchiMediaL project on reconstructing 4D street views from historical images.

Let Ronald Siebes tell you all about reconstructing #4D street views from historical image collections, as proposed by #ArchiMediaL @VU_Science @tudelft @UserCentricDS pic.twitter.com/6WQUGta4VC

— Victor de Boer (@victordeboer) March 20, 2018

Oana Inel presented her work on Named Entity Recognition and Gold Standard critiquing. She also demonstrated the Clariah MediaSuite.

@oana_inel shows that 'gold standards' in NER might not be gold, nor standard. #ICTOPEN2018 @UserCentricDS @VU_Science #crowdtruth pic.twitter.com/cSRIH3YUS7

— Victor de Boer (@victordeboer) March 19, 2018

Advanced digital data services for media scholars: @oana_inel demonstrating the @CLARIAH_NL MediaSuite at #ictopen2018 @VU_Science @benglabs #clariah #digitalhumanities pic.twitter.com/K6wzGFdHFR

— Victor de Boer (@victordeboer) March 19, 2018

Anca Dumitrache talked about using crowdsourcing as part of the Machine Learning life cycle.

@anca_dmtrch proposes #crowdsourcing to fix errors in distant supervision data in the machine learning session at #ICTOPEN2018 #crowdtruth @UserCentricDS @VU_Science pic.twitter.com/2QXNcSkdRN

— Victor de Boer (@victordeboer) March 19, 2018

Tobias Kuhn talked about Reliable Granular References to Changing Linked Data, which was previously published at ISWC2017.

Cristina Bucur introduced  Linkflows: enabling a web of linked semantic publishing workflows

I talked myself a bit about current work in the ABC-Kb Network Institute project

@victordeboer presenting "UX Challenges of information organization: the assessment of language impairment in bilingual children" @ #ictopen2018 @networkinstvu @UserCentricDS @VU_Science pic.twitter.com/2CY4esa4vy

— Oana Inel (@oana_inel) March 20, 2018

All in all, this was quite a nice edition of the yearly event for our group. See you next year in Amersfoort!

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Source: Victor de Boer

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A look back at UCDS at ICT.Open2018

Two weeks ago, ICT.Open2018 was held in Amersfoort. This event brings together Computer Science researchers from all over the Netherlands and our research group was present with many posters and presentations.

We even won a prize! (Well, a 2nd place prize, but awesome nonetheless). Xander Wilcke presented work on using Knowledge Graphs for Machine Learning. He was awarded the runner-up prize for best poster presentation at ICTOpen2018. Congrats!

The knowledge graph for end-to-end learning poster at #ictopen2018 check it out at stand nr 4 @UserCentricDS pic.twitter.com/3INrp63lN9

— Victor de Boer (@victordeboer) March 19, 2018

 

Ronald Siebes presented work in the ArchiMediaL project on reconstructing 4D street views from historical images.

Let Ronald Siebes tell you all about reconstructing #4D street views from historical image collections, as proposed by #ArchiMediaL @VU_Science @tudelft @UserCentricDS pic.twitter.com/6WQUGta4VC

— Victor de Boer (@victordeboer) March 20, 2018

Oana Inel presented her work on Named Entity Recognition and Gold Standard critiquing. She also demonstrated the Clariah MediaSuite.

@oana_inel shows that 'gold standards' in NER might not be gold, nor standard. #ICTOPEN2018 @UserCentricDS @VU_Science #crowdtruth pic.twitter.com/cSRIH3YUS7

— Victor de Boer (@victordeboer) March 19, 2018

Advanced digital data services for media scholars: @oana_inel demonstrating the @CLARIAH_NL MediaSuite at #ictopen2018 @VU_Science @benglabs #clariah #digitalhumanities pic.twitter.com/K6wzGFdHFR

— Victor de Boer (@victordeboer) March 19, 2018

Anca Dumitrache talked about using crowdsourcing as part of the Machine Learning life cycle.

@anca_dmtrch proposes #crowdsourcing to fix errors in distant supervision data in the machine learning session at #ICTOPEN2018 #crowdtruth @UserCentricDS @VU_Science pic.twitter.com/2QXNcSkdRN

— Victor de Boer (@victordeboer) March 19, 2018

Tobias Kuhn talked about Reliable Granular References to Changing Linked Data, which was previously published at ISWC2017.

Cristina Bucur introduced  Linkflows: enabling a web of linked semantic publishing workflows

I talked myself a bit about current work in the ABC-Kb Network Institute project

@victordeboer presenting "UX Challenges of information organization: the assessment of language impairment in bilingual children" @ #ictopen2018 @networkinstvu @UserCentricDS @VU_Science pic.twitter.com/2CY4esa4vy

— Oana Inel (@oana_inel) March 20, 2018

All in all, this was quite a nice edition of the yearly event for our group. See you next year in Amersfoort!

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Source: Victor de Boer

Posted in Staff Blogs, Victor de Boer

An Augmented Reality App to Annotate Art

[This post is based on the Bachelor project by Jurjen Braam and reuses content from his thesis]

The value of Augmented Reality applications has been shown for a number of different tasks. Most of these show that AR applications add to the immersiveness of an experience. For his Bachelor Project, VU student Jurjen Braam researched to what extent AR technology makes sense for the task of annotating artworks.

To this end, Jurjen built a mobile application which allows experts or laypeople to add textual annotations to artworks in three different modes. One mode doesnt show the artwork, but allows for textual input, the 2nd mode shows the work in an image and allows for localised annotations. The last mode is the AR mode, which projects the artwork in the physical space, using the device camera and screen.

Three modes of the Application (Text, 2D, AR)

Jurjen evaluated the three modes through a small user study, which showed that immersion and enjoyment was highest in the AR mode but that this mode was least efficient. Also, participants indicated that for annotation tasks, larger screens would be preferable.

User evaluation in action

This research was a unique endeavour combining a proven technology (AR) and well-known task (Annotation) which identified interesting possibilities for follow-up research.

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Source: Victor de Boer

Posted in Staff Blogs, Victor de Boer

An Augmented Reality App to Annotate Art

[This post is based on the Bachelor project by Jurjen Braam and reuses content from his thesis]

The value of Augmented Reality applications has been shown for a number of different tasks. Most of these show that AR applications add to the immersiveness of an experience. For his Bachelor Project, VU student Jurjen Braam researched to what extent AR technology makes sense for the task of annotating artworks.

To this end, Jurjen built a mobile application which allows experts or laypeople to add textual annotations to artworks in three different modes. One mode doesnt show the artwork, but allows for textual input, the 2nd mode shows the work in an image and allows for localised annotations. The last mode is the AR mode, which projects the artwork in the physical space, using the device camera and screen.

Three modes of the Application (Text, 2D, AR)

Jurjen evaluated the three modes through a small user study, which showed that immersion and enjoyment was highest in the AR mode but that this mode was least efficient. Also, participants indicated that for annotation tasks, larger screens would be preferable.

User evaluation in action

This research was a unique endeavour combining a proven technology (AR) and well-known task (Annotation) which identified interesting possibilities for follow-up research.

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Source: Victor de Boer

Posted in Staff Blogs, Victor de Boer

W4RA work featured in BBC article

Screenshot of the bBC article
Screenshot of the bBC article “‘Siri, will talking ever top typing?’ By Padraig Belton”

A BBC web article “‘Siri, will talking ever top typing?’ By Padraig Belton features our W4RA work done on voice interfaces for farmer information in Northern Ghana.

Francis Dittoh talks about the need for specific information for farmers in their own language and discusses ongoing research into our Kasadaka system. Anna Bon talks more about the web of voices. Very nice to see our work recognized by international media!

Read more at http://www.bbc.com/news/business-43409952

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Source: Victor de Boer

Posted in Staff Blogs, Victor de Boer

W4RA work featured in BBC article

Screenshot of the bBC article
Screenshot of the bBC article “‘Siri, will talking ever top typing?’ By Padraig Belton”

A BBC web article “‘Siri, will talking ever top typing?’ By Padraig Belton features our W4RA work done on voice interfaces for farmer information in Northern Ghana.

Francis Dittoh talks about the need for specific information for farmers in their own language and discusses ongoing research into our Kasadaka system. Anna Bon talks more about the web of voices. Very nice to see our work recognized by international media!

Read more at http://www.bbc.com/news/business-43409952

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Source: Victor de Boer

Posted in Staff Blogs, Victor de Boer

Field trip to Ghana, feb 2018

As part of the ongoing W4RA efforts, the VU ICT4D team visited West-Africa once more. This time, we visited Mali, Burkina Faso and Ghana. I personally went to Ghana to talk to external PhD candidate Francis Dittoh and his colleagues at the University of Development Studies (UDS) and the SARI institute in Tamale, in Northern Ghana. Francis and myself talking to a shea-butter guideAfter first flying to Accra, I first was able to have a short meeting with my good friend Nana Baah Gyan, who is now an ICT for Development expert in that city. I then flew to Tamale,. where we met up with Francis to talk about his PhD work on information systems for rural farmers.

After colleagues Anna Bon and Hans Akkermans arrived from Burkina Faso, we met with UDS vice-chancellor as well as the Dean of the Faculty of Engineering to  discuss the ongoing collaboration of W4RA and VU with Prof Saa Dittoh, and Francis. We hope to formalize these collaborations in a Memorandum of Understanding between the two universities. We also discuss the ambition of UDS to set up a curriculum in software engineering as part of the undergraduate programs. Such a programme would include a yearly community service courses, where students go into the field. This is very interesting for us as it aligns well with the goals of the ICT4D course at VU. The programmes also include a French language course to allow for smoother cooperation with other Sahel countries (specifically Burkina Faso).The UDS mission statement

We also visited the Savanna Agriculture Research Institute (CSIR-SARI). The situation is comparable to that in Burkina. SARI governs the use of hybrid seeds, which cannot be reused year by year but result in a higher yield. SARI is interested in educating farmers on how to handle these seeds (fertilization, planting etc). There are three classes of seeds: 1) breeder seeds – grown at research institutes, 2) foundation seeds and 3) certified seeds – produced by ~1000 farmers monitored by ~10 seed companies, and certified by an external agency.SARI research institute

Potentially interesting for us is their connection to rural farmers. SARI now mostly does this through extension workers from the ministry of Agriculture. However, because of budget cuts, these are now reduced to roughly 1 extension worker to 2,500 farmers. Therefore, SARI is open to the idea of commucating with farmers directly, for example through a voice-based system. An interesting opportunity could be two-track strategy with a smartphone app for extension workers to allow them to do their work better and a companion voice app for farmers. SARI is very much interested in developing applications in a co-creation process. This would match the research proposal that Francis has submitted to SARI and UDS.

A personal highlight was the 10hr road trip that Francis offered me to join instead of taking a flight back to Accra. Ghana is a beautiful country that changes before your eyes on such a trip. My sincere hope is that the proposed collaborations will lead to many more visits to this great country. 

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Source: Victor de Boer

Posted in Staff Blogs, Victor de Boer