It has been a while since NexusLinguarum started walking. Our kickoff meeting took place on 28th October 2019 in Brussels, where representatives of the 33 countries constituting the initial network met to discuss the objectives, plans, scope and goals of the different working groups, as well as to elect the action’s management board.
Later, in January 2020, we met in Prague (Czech Republic) to held our second Management Committee (MC) meeting, collocated with the first Working Group (WG) meetings. This was the first opportunity for any member of the network (not only MC members) to meet in person, since WG meetings are open to any NexusLinguarum participant. The WG meetings were really fruitful in the exchange of ideas and served to envision a more concrete roadmap for the project and for each of their WGs, as well as to start materialising collaborations and exchange of ideas.
“The WG meetings were really fruitful in the exchange of ideas and served to envision a more concrete roadmap for the project and for each of their WGs”
– Jorge Gracia
Out of our Prague’s meeting, several proposals for short research visits started taking form. Some of them already took place as Short Term Scientific Missions [link to the Activities/STSMs section] and others are on-hold owing to the Covid-19 crisis, but will take place as soon as circumstances for travelling are more favourable in Europe.
Another interesting outcome of the Prague’s meeting was to have a better idea and understanding of each other’s background and experience. For instance, participants in the plenary session were asked about their degree of knowledge and experience in the four core topics of the Action, namely: language resources and technologies, Semantic Web (SW) and linked data (LD), natural language processing (NLP) and, finally, data science and data analysis. Results are shown in the following image:
We can see that most of the people’s experience in Nexuslinguarum falls in the languages resources and technologies area, followed by NLP. Interestingly, the average experience in SW and data science is the same, but the distribution is completely different. In the SW area, participants mostly voted for one of the extremes: either they consider themselves novice in this area, or experts. On the other hand, most of the participants considered themselves with a medium background on data science.
This informal poll confirmed that there is a need of training in SW and LD related topics, so we can somehow “soften” the novice extreme of the curve. In fact, the first NexusLinguarum training school will be centred in the topic of “Linked Data for Linguistics”, and will put the grounds for interested people to learn the principles of SW and LD and their applications in Linguistics. Such a 1st training school was initially planned for Autumn 2020 but unfortunately was postponed owing to the pandemic. The new dates, to be confirmed, will be around early February 2021. Hopefully, more details about the training school will be published soon.
Despite our travelling and face to face activities were abruptly interrupted due to the COVID-19 crisis, the work continued through regular teleconferences to monitor the scientific progresses of the different WGs, as well as to deal with the organisational aspects of the Action by the core group. Hopefully we can restart our physical networking activities soon! The next opportunity will be on 26-27 October 2020 in Lisbon (Portugal) when the next NexusLinguarum plenary meeting is planned if the pandemic allows.
Finally, just to mention that NexusLinguarum counts on participants from 42 countries (37 COST Countries, 3 Near Neighbour Countries, and 2 International Partner Countries). So far, 141 members have joined the different working groups (WGs), a number which is steadily growing since the network is still open to new participants. We are still in our first year (out of four) so there are still a lot of exciting networking activities and research challenges to participate in!