I just came back from the first VoCamp, held at Wolfson College in Oxford. It was the first in what will hopefully become a series of small, hands-on, community-driven events where people get together to build and work on vocabularies and ontologies for the Semantic Web. Peter Mika had a nice blog post recently on why such activity is badly needed.
The whole event was pretty organic and loosely organised. Compared to big, official events with lots of pretty boring talks (not saying that _all_ talks are always boring), VoCamp was refreshingly fun and engaging. I actually had the feeling that I was doing something useful. Ad-hoc groups formed on the spot, working on varied topics such as an IRC vocabulary, a whiskey ontology, something which could be called a “vocabulary starter pack for SemWeb newbies”, an evidence ontology, bio-med vocabularies, etc. The idea is that we will have a number of VoCamps in rapid succession (the next one will be in November here in Galway), and so, even though probably none of the individual topics will have enourmous impact just now, I think VoCamp can definitely create a lot of momentum over time.
On Thursday, we planned to take the opportunity to join the Oxford SWIG meeting, but unfortunately there didn’t seem to be a lot of Semantic Web interest just that evening in Oxford. However, I did manage to say hello to Kal Ahmed of TM4J (Topic Maps) fame!