The purpose of LINGLINK is to maximize the success of the language engineering projects in the Telematics Applications Programme. It will familiarize their personnel with work in other programme sectors, providing support in coordination, evaluation, standardisation and promotion. The work of the projects will also be marketed using brochures and directories available in print or on the World-Wide Web. The LINGLINK team will publicise the language engineering projects at conferences and among users, exploring requirements, highlighting project potential and solliciting feedback.
The early work of the LINGLINK team was to establish its own credibility by presenting its work programme to all the participants in the Language Engineering Sector, including the European Commission, the Telematics Programme Committee and its Language Engineering Working Party, and the RTD projects. In the last case this was done by presenting LINGLINK at all the project kick-off meetings. In January, 1996 LINGLINK organised a Launch Conference which was very successful in introducing project participants to each other and in establishing a common knowledge base.
An initial Project Directory was produced in the autumn of 1995 and this has been improved and updated as new projects has been started. This Directory has been presented in a number of different forms, according to the target audience: printed as a booklet and electronically. It is currently available and distributed, as part of the World Wide Web pages of the Language Engineering Sector and on a diskette, neatly packaged with its own browser.
LINGLINK has responsibility for presenting language engineering to as wide a forum as possible at conferences and exhibitions As part of this, the Team managed the European Commission exhibit at the Language Engineering Convention in London and has exhibited at Information Days held by the European Commission. It has organised demonstrations at concertation events, and co-ordinated the activities of RTD projects wishing to exhibit jointly at Conferences.
A range of promotional publications, both printed and electronic, have been produced including:
- a high level brochure aimed at the busy manager who should be aware of the possibilities of language technology in broad terms
- a brochure explaining the basics of language engineering and the techniques and resources needed to build language enabled systems, also describing the application of language engineering to a range of business, administrative, and citizen/consumer system
- a series of papers on important topics involving language engineering
- and a complete revision of the language engineering pages on the I*M Europe WWW site, so that these pages have become amongst the most visited during the year.
LINGLINK has also responsible for the production of this publication.
A series of concertation meetings was held in May and June of 1996, in which the projects met as 'clusters' to agree upon future concertation activities. LINGLINK produced trigger papers for the cluster meetings covering areas such as concertation policy and activities, design of a user forum, opportunities for technical collaboration and guides to promotion, dissemination and market research for projects.
In October 1996, LINGLINK designed and managed a Business Forum, Language Directions 96. This Forum was attended by more than 90 people. After an opening plenary session three parallel workshops were attended by technologists, vendors and users who discussed the application of language technologies to a number of business areas. A summary of the proceedings was published after the event.
A concertation conference was held in February 1997 at which eleven projects which started at the end of 1995, gave demonstrations of their achievements so far. At the same conference the latest projects to start gave presentations of their intentions.
The Way Ahead
LINGLINK has developed a new approach to the way it will perform its activities from now until the end of the current Programme. While maintaining the type of work which it has carried out so far the Team will be emphasising two particular areas:
- a marketwatch activity - LEO (Language Engineering Observatory)
- a series of user studies designed to identify and analyse beneficial applications for language engineering in different industry sectors.
The purpose of the Language Engineering Observatory is to provide a service by gathering both raw data and information, collating, correlating and analysing it, and presenting it, as focused information, in useful forms to particular target audiences. At the present time there is no service like this for the Language Engineering Sector. From time to time analysis is undertaken, often for a particular reason. This results in a snapshot of the situation which is then not subject to update. It is not the purpose of the Observatory to produce large volumes of statistics but rather to provide reports based on a considered analysis of events and trends in the marketplace: on the supply side (from research through product development to availability of systems and services); and on the demand side (from general reviews of the requirements of industry sectors to the definition of priority applications for those sector). Of course, some statistical information must be used to support some conclusions but, in general, reports will be qualitative rather than quantitative
One of the lessons learned in the LINGLINK project so far has been the need to focus and to provide a good foundation of knowledge for each concertation and promotional activity. The team will conduct a large proportion of its work in future through a series of focused themes. The idea is to select a number of themes based on:
- industrial/commercial sectors of importance to the competitiveness of Europe
- matters of special importance to the citizen in the Multi-Lingual Information Society
- knowledge and information;
to concentrate on identifying applications for language technologies which are seen by the main players in these areas as having the greatest significance, and to carry out a series of activities which have the following benefits:
- concentrate on areas of agreed importance
- treats these areas in depth with expertise
- produces a record of the requirements of users in the real market
- supplies the knowledge needed to raise awareness and carry out promotional activities
- provides important indicators for the strategic direction in a future Language Engineering programme
In short, the focused, themed approach maximises the impact of each activity and makes the best use of resources. This means that the same themes will be the subject of a number of different activities:
- a study in a particular market or user area leading to a situation report
- an analysis of specific applications (like a mini-preparatory phase) leading to the definition of specific user requirements
- arranging and holding a workshop or round table of experts in the field to validate and extend the finding of the studies
- design and production of an authoritative public report and an associated promotional brochure
- preparation and delivery of one or more papers to be delivered at conferences
This approach, coupled with a marketwatch activity, should provide facts which can be used in the promotion of Language Engineering, and especially in persuading user organisation to participate in the all important development and validation activities of the sector.