CLARIN 2017 Annual Conference

BudapestThe 2017 CLARIN Annual Conference was held from September 18 through September 21 in Budapest.

The pre-conference part of the first day  was dedicated to committee and task force meetings such as the national coordinator’s forum (Jan Odijk participating on behalf of the Netherlands), the user involvement group (NL represented by Patricia Alkhoven), the Standards committee (with Daan Broeder and Jan Odijk on behalf of NL), and others.

There were about 170 participants from the 19 CLARIN ERIC members and 2 observer states, as well as from organisations and countries with whom cooperation discussions are on-going. The Netherlands delegation was relatively small in comparison to other years (only 7 delegates this year), but both key note speakers were from the Netherlands: Karina van Dalen-Oskam (Huygens ING) told about her work on  stylometric research and Piek Vossen (Free University Amsterdam) about the principles and research questions behind extraction information from natural language texts and representing this as linked data.

I found a number of things noteworthy: first, many data from Europeana have now been included in the Virtual Language Observatory, bringing the number of metadata records from some 900K to over 1.6 million.
Second, improvements and extensions of the CLARIN Language Resource Switchboard  (CLRS) created in the CLARIN-PLUS project were reported on. CLRS makes it possible to automatically associate data with applications that apply to them: such an application can then be applied to the data by a user through a single click. This significantly lowers the barrier for using these applications, and it is worthwhile to investigate whether more Dutch applications can be included in the CLRS (currently only some of the Nijmegen applications are included). The concept could be applied in the other CLARIAH core disciplines (social economic history and media studies) as well.
Third, Poland has a very active community and is providing an increasing number of data sets, applications and web services. And finally, all member and observer countries are now connected through federated login, connecting more than 20 countries and thousands of organisations, an impressive achievement indeed!

This year, Paul Meurer from  Uni Research Computing, Norway was awarded the Steven Krauwer award for CLARIN Achievements. As in the past years, the Bazaar was again an informal and very lively event to share the latest ideas and developments. Very interesting was for instance Ramble On by the Italian DH Group from Trento. Ramble On allows you to analyse e.g. the mobility of past famous individuals by using Natural Language Processing modules applied to unstructured texts.

The social programme was very attractive as well. On the first day we had a reception at the Academy Building, which was a quite impressive building and the trip towards it made it possible to view some of the parts of Budapest around the Danube river. On Tuesday there was a dinner on a boat which travelled up and down the Danube river, with spectacular views on the beauty of Budapest.

Budapest, by the way, is considered the birthplace of CLARIN: It was pointed out by Tamás Váradi, the local organizer and confirmed by Steven Krauwer that CLARIN originated here in a workshop  in 2006.

I enjoyed the conference very much and I am looking forward to the 2018 CLARIN Conference, for which the dates and locations are not yet known.

Jan Odijk