Since 2010 I, Vladimir Alexiev, have been working at Ontotext, one of the spin-offs of the Sirma software group which five friends and I had set up back in 1992. Ontotext started working on projects as a research lab in 2000 and became an independent company specializing in semantic technologies in 2008. Sirma Group, meanwhile, has expanded to become Bulgaria’s largest software group, employing some 400 staff. Sirma Group was listed on the Bulgarian Stock Exchange in 2015.
Apart from managing large-scale projects at Sirma, I’ve always been passionate about working on exciting research projects. I’ve always worked at Sirma companies and joined the semantic technology developer in 2010. Here at Ontotext I’ve been working on data conversion, data integration, metadata, linked open data, semantic enrichment, and ontologies.
As a semantic technology company, Ontotext develops and offers solutions to help organizations add context to content by extracting meaning out of diverse heterogeneous data. Its semantic graph database GraphDB handles massive loads of data and links and infers links between raw disparate datasets. This kind of semantic repository, which uses ontologies to automatically and logically reason about data, reveals hidden relationships between entities and concepts by inferencing new knowledge from existing facts. This Resource Description Framework repository, or RDF database, is compatible with the Linked Open Data standards.
At Ontotext, we are working to further develop the LOD cloud so as to help graph database users obtain highly-interlinked relevant knowledge. Publishers, life sciences and healthcare groups, the e-Government, museums, and archives are using Ontotext’s semantic technologies to power a smarter knowledge discovery, and to search, retrieve, reuse or repurpose their content faster and more cost-efficiently.
Ontotext, which has been investing in research and working on 36 EU projects since 2001, has been focusing on commercial projects since 2008. The BBC Sport linked data platform is the best-known example of an industrial-scale application of Ontotext’s semantic technology. Publishing – including Semantic News Publishing and Scientific Publishing – is one of Ontotext’s strongest businesses, with the BBC, the Financial Times, Euromoney, UK & NL Press Associations, Wiley, IET being some of our most notable clients.
Apart from helping news providers and media with Dynamic Semantic Publishing, Ontotext is empowering cultural heritage applications, where ontologies work efficiently in collaboration and research by describing artifacts and events in the cultural heritage lifecycle.
Cultural heritage data, however, is so disparate and heterogeneous and spread all over the world in many languages. So, semantic technology comes into play to help create interlinks between the data, improve use and research, and make objects interlinked and easily searchable.
I started working with and developing cultural heritage data interlinks in 2010. We have developed the ResearchSpace prototype platform for The British Museum, obtaining strong and valuable experience with the CIDOC CRM and FRBRoo ontologies. I’ve also helped with mapping the data of Yale Center for British Art to CRM. Ontotext has also published some of the most valuable thesauri in the cultural heritage domain as LOD and has actively participated in developing the latest international standard for thesauri, ISO 25964.
Ontotext and I have worked to semantically enrich Europeana Creative, the European project aimed at promoting greater re-use of cultural heritage resources by the creative industries. As one of Europeana Creative’s 26 project partners, Ontotext has contributed with geo-referencing and crowdsourcing. I’ve also researched Name Data Sources for Semantic Enrichment.
We at Ontotext have added OAI and SPARQL as two new access channels in Europeana Labs. As a project partner of Europeana Food and Drink, we’ve worked on developing a classification of food and beverages based on Wikipedia categories. We’ve also actively contributed to semantically enriching the English and Bulgarian collections and are now developing the enrichment of the French collection. Ontotext also helped develop a semantic demonstrator by creating semantic facets for food and drink topics and for places. The demonstrator allows for browsing semantic hierarchies and for highly relevant and precise search on food and beverages and places categories.
Apart from collaborating with Europeana at the operations level, I’ve taken part in five task forces at Europeana, on technical topics in particular. These are EDM – FRBRoo Application Profile on principles and mapping rules of properties and classes of EDM and FRBRoo; Evaluation and Enrichments; Multilingual and Semantic Enrichment Strategy; Europeana for Education; and Free, Libre, Open Source Software. As quality takes over quantity in Europeana’s priorities for the next few years, and as this shift towards quality is increasingly important for Europeana consumers, I’m delighted and excited that I’m part of the DBpedia and Europeana quality committees.
And follow me on Twitter for updates on Europeana projects and exciting news on ontologies, mapping and linked open data – I would be happy to answer your questions and talk semantics!