Prize Winners Visualise Irish Online Life in boards.ie Competition

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

The Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI) at NUI Galway has announced the winners of a competition run in conjunction with boards.ie. The competition brief was to produce an interesting creation based on a data set reflecting ten years of Irish online life from boards.ie, Ireland's largest discussion forum website. boards.ie is one of Ireland's busiest websites, with 1.7 million unique visitors a month. The site has recently won a Golden Spider Award for Best Social Networking or Community Site, and Irish Web Awards for both Best Discussion Forum and the Grand Prix. The most popular discussion areas are 'after hours', soccer, motors, poker and computers. Popular topic threads include: a virtual pub (over 4000 pages); member discussions (2800 pages); poker stories (1800 pages); Liverpool rumours (1250 pages); recruitment in the GardaĆ­ (800 pages long); and a freebie list (250 pages). For the competition, the data from boards.ie (approximately 9 million documents) was represented in the Semantically-Interlinked Online Communities (SIOC) open data format developed by DERI. Dr John Breslin, a researcher with DERI and co-founder of the boards.ie site said: "The competition had about sixty registrants and there were eight final submissions of very high quality that demonstrated really interesting usages of the Semantic Web data. There has been huge interest in the winning entries from many communities (developers, researchers, designers) and the winners have agreed to release the code for others to use". The winning submission was entitled "SIOC.ME: A Real-Time Interactive Visualisation of boards.ie Semantic Data within a 3-D Space". The entry illustrated how 3-D visualisations may be harnessed to not only provide an interactive means of presenting or browsing data but also to create useful data analysis tools, especially for manipulating the "semantic" (meaningful) data from online communities and social networking sites. Submitted by Darren Geraghty, a user interface and interaction designer from Co. Galway, the entry was praised by the judges for the huge amount of effort that went into creating it. In second place was a visualisation application called "boardsview" by Stephen Dolan of Trinity College Dublin. This interactive, real-time animation where one can watch the historical content from many discussion forums changing in real or compressed time. In the application, viewers can zoom into a particular forum to see individual users posting messages or to see threads being created and destroyed. Third prize was awarded to the "Forum Activity Graph" by Drew Perttula from California. This entry was a visualisation showing the popularity of forums on boards.ie as represented by coloured rivers of information, which were then rendered and displayed using Google Maps. The competition was judged by an independent panel of three experts: Ian Davis, Chief Technology Officer with Talis; Harry Halpin, researcher at the University of Edinburgh and chair of the W3C GRDDL working group; and Peter Mika, researcher at Yahoo! Research Barcelona and author of the book Social Networks and the Semantic Web. First prize was an Amazon voucher worth $4000, with a second third prize work $2000 and $1000 respectively.
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