Semantic Web Economics 2009: First International Workshop on the Economics of the Semantic Web
in conjunction with the 8th International Semantic Web Conference (ISWC 2009) October 25 or 26, 2009, Westfields Conference Center near Washington, DC.
Contact: Martin Hepp, firstname.lastname@example.org. http://www.heppnetz.de
Weaving and maintaining the Semantic Web requires contributions from many individuals – ontology engineers, owners of data sources, developers of application software, and regular users. While initially, the community spirit of contributing researchers and developers were sufficient as the driving forces and motivators, a broad adoption of Semantic Web technology will require proper incentive structures for the participating individuals. This is relevant not only for those creating or contributing to the creation of an ontology or a Semantic Web application, but also for all pure users: They face ontology familiarization and commitment costs, i.e. they have to spend time and resources prior to being able to use an ontology. Now, despite early work on the costs and benefits of single ontologies, there is a substantial lack of research on the economic aspects of the Semantic Web. For many domains of interest, it is a completely open research question whether the gain in automation, to be made possible by the availability of a respective ontology, outweighs the resources necessary for creating the ontology. Even worse, even if the overall benefit of an ontology over its lifetime exceeds the costs for creating the ontology, it may still not be created if it is not economically feasible for each individual required to contribute. Also, same as standards, ontologies are typical goods with positive network effects, i.e. their utility for an individual user increases with the absolute number of users. This means that it is difficult to reach a critical mass of users in the beginning, since the utility for the early adopter is very low, while the effort of adopting may be higher than at a later stage of diffusion (e.g. because there is less expertise and support available). Semantic Web engineering involves many design decision, e.g. on the scope, expressiveness, or size of an ontology. In this workshop, we want to increase our understanding of how such design decisions influence the incentive structures and thus the later adoption and usage of Semantic Web components and the overall Semantic Web.
Technical Description of the Workshop
The state of the art in ontology building and usage widely disregards the fact that the behavior of rational actors in the process is often driven by individual economic incentives. Quite obviously, creating an ontology requires resources (e.g. labor) from the contributing individuals. Now, it is for many domains a completely open research question whether the gain in automation, to be made possible by the availability of a respective ontology, outweighs the resources necessary for creating the ontology. Even worse, even if the overall benefit of an ontology over its lifetime exceeds the costs for creating the ontology, it may still not be created if it is not economically feasible for each individual required to contribute. Also, same as standards, ontologies are typical goods with positive network effects, i.e., their utility for an individual user increases with the absolute number of users. This means that it is difficult to reach a critical mass of users in the beginning, since the utility for the early adopter is very low, while the effort of adopting may be higher than at a later stage of diffusion (e.g. because there is less expertise and support available). In a nutshell, it is in many cases unclear whether the gain in automation will justify the effort required to build a particular ontology, and whether the costs and gains are fairly distributed among the potential contributors and users. Furthermore, the incentive bottleneck is relevant not only for those creating or contributing to the creation of an ontology, Semantic Web application, or data set, but also for all pure users. For example, they face ontology familiarization and commitment costs, i.e., they have to spend time and resources prior to being able to use an ontology. Similar problems have long been analyzed for standards and standardization in economic theory, e.g. by Katz and Shapiro, but there is a substantial lack of research on the economic driving forces and incentives of Semantic Web technology in its various flavors. For example, we have so far not seen anybody discussing network externalities in depth in the context of ontology engineering. While there is some work on cost estimation models for ontologies, the complex interplay between individual contributions and gains have so far not been studied. The proposed workshop “Semantic Web Economics” aims at filling this gap by providing a high-profile venue for defining and discussing the research challenges regarding the economic dimension of building, commiting to, and using ontologies, Semantic Web applications, and linked open datasets. By means of the workshop, we want to bring together experts from the relevant communities and help reach agreement on a roadmap for research. We aim at transferring the experiences from economics research done on standards diffusion to Semantic Web engineering and help provide a solid understanding of the incentive structures of ontology-based collaborative applications. Also, we want to gather evidence and data from both Web 2.0 applications and heavyweight ontology engineering projects in order to establish reference datasets for future research.
Current Relevance and Relevance for ISWC Attendees
We can observe a sharp contrast in user interest in two branches of Web activity – the “Web 2.0” movement lives from an unprecedented amount of contributions from Web users, while the work on the Semantic Web side is hampered by a substantial lack of user involvement. In our opinion, this is mainly because Web 2.0 environments provide direct rewards for user involvement, mostly in the form of improved access to Web content: Users who tag objects in collaborative tagging systems immediately improve their own access to those objects, while at the same time improving the shared metadata. As for the Semantic Web, many important tasks come without a proper reward for the contributing humans: Building an ontology is a fairly abstract task and thus pretty much decoupled from immediate rewards. Also, heavyweight annotations often require a lot more time from a single skilled individual than this individual will ever save by means of the improved access. This means that wide diffusion of “heavyweight” Semantic Web technology requires that we understand the monetary and non-monetary driving forces for users in order to create proper rewards for contributing humans. There is a clear need for a high-profile event at which relevant communities meet, debate, challenge each others approaches, and eventually align their research efforts. Being a key meeting point for Web Science, Semantic Web, and Web 2.0 researchers as well as researchers working on Web-related issues in adjacent fields, ISWC 2009 is the ideal target venue for this event.
a) Scholars from the following communities:
- Semantic Web research,
- Formal Ontologies,
- Web 2.0,
- Knowledge Management
- Conceptual Modeling, and
- Data and Knowledge Engineering;
b) Practitioners from various fields who are in need of estimation models and data for assessing the business value and costs of ontology-projects and other contributions for the next generation Web.
The Workshop is planned as a full-day event, including paper presentations, joint mind-mapping session, option for posters, and a highly-interactive panel discussion. The goal of the panel discussion is to produce a consensual roadmap of the novel field of Semantic Web Economics.
8:30 – 9:30 Opening Talk and Keynote
9:30 – 12:30 Paper Presentations (Coffee Breaks in alignment with parallel events)
12:30 – 13:30 Lunch Break
13:30 – 14:30 Lightning Talks
14:30 – 16:30 Joint mind-mapping session and panel discussion:A Roadmap for Semantic Web Economics Research
16:30 – 18:00 Panel Discussion, Consolidation, Next Steps
For the keynote, we aim at a high-profile speaker with a background in network economics. For the panel discussion and joint mind-mapping session, we will have senior experts from our Program Committee and Experts from an industrial background plus one expert with a microeconomic background.
Evaluation of Submissions
All paper submissions will be peer-reviewed by three members of the program committee. Preference will be given to innovative, truly interdisciplinary work, bridging the gap between Semantic Web research and Economics. Posters will be reviewed by the organizing committee; depending on the number of poster submissions, only a subset of poster will be accepted. In that case preference will be given to interdisciplinary and thought-provoking work over mainstream contributions.
Call for Papers
We are inviting full research papers, short position papers, posters, and hands-on demonstrations in the following areas:
- Fundamental aspects of Ontology Economics
- Cost prediction models for ontology construction
- Methods for assessing the added value of ontologies
- Inventive structures of Semantic Web applications
- Network effects and diffusion theory
- Ontology usage under uncertainty and ontology project risk prediction
- Quantitative evidence: data and experiences
- Weaving the Semantic Web by “Games with a Purpose”
Please use our Easychair submission system at http://www.easychair.org/conferences/?conf=swe09 (available shortly)
Organizing Committee and Contact
Prof. Dr. Martin Hepp
E-Business and Web Science Research Group
Chair of General Management and E-Business
Universität der Bundeswehr München
D-85579 Neubiberg, Germany
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Robert Tolksdorf
Freie Universität Berlin
Fachbereich Mathematik und Informatik Institut für Informatik
AG Netzbasierte Informationssysteme
D-14195 Berlin (Dahlem), Germany
Both organizers are the editors of an upcoming Springer book on “Ontology Economics”, to which selected papers from the workshop will be invited.