WWW2002  was the 11th annual World Wide Web Conference, held this year in Tourist Hell (Waikiki), Hawaii. WWW2002 ran over three days, with 10 refereed tracks including one on the Semantic Web, and six 'alternate' tracks. All the papers from the conference are available online in html . You might also like to look at the RDF Interest group chatlogs and blog pages for the days covering the conference  and I also have some photos  as does Dave Beckett .
I'm a Semantic Web researcher at ILRT, with particular interests in RDF query languages and calendaring. I'm currently employed on the just-started SWAD-Europe project , an EC-funded project which extends W3C's Semantic Web Advanced Development [swad] in Europe. I therefore chose a certain subset of the parallel talks to do with the Semantic Web, although the conference convered a wide range of topics - for example education, web engineering, wireless, e-commerce.
Here's a quick run through of the parts of the conference I attended.
The first day I attended was Wednesday 8th. I went to the plenary session . Tim Berners-Lee did a nice speech explaining the importance of patent-free infrastructure for the web , [edd]. Then in the Semantic Web Service track I went to a talk about extending XQuery for implementing web services , which seemed to be an entire programming language.
In the afternoon there was a W3C track on the Semantic Web, which basically meant reports back from the working group chairs of RDFCore and Webont (respectively Brian McBride and Jim Hendler), plus some information about W3C SWAD activity, and so SWAD-Europe, by Ralph Swick . There was also a nice demo of R.V.Guha's TAP system  which illustrates cross searching of google and W3C-specific data sources, such as people, working group documents (example ).
After that was a poster session, and after that, a birds of a feather meeting about Semantic Web tools, chaired by the chair of RDFCore, Brian McBride of HP Labs Bristol. It was very interesting to listen to the Semantic Web interests of the 30-odd people who were there.
Thursday I went to the Global Community track to see Charles McCathieNevile of W3C present a paper which described among other things the principles behind the design of SWAD-Europe . Charles did a great job, despite being drowned out by the presentation next door, and there was lots of interest in the paper.
Thursday afternoon I started in the Semantic Web panel, which seemed rather mired in business-related aspects of the Semantic Web, rather than the interesting-to-me technical aspects. Then I got tipped off on IRC that Dean Jackson was presenting a very interesting series of SVG demos. Dean's demos aren't all available yet [dean], but he helped me hack a version of one of them for the codepiction database  which gives you a flavour of the quality of them (although my version is much uglier). Another demo was Max Froumentin's XSLT/SVG Chess demo  which is amazing. Dean's session was part of 'cool web' session, and was very well received. I was thinking 'I'm in the wrong business'.
Friday, the main session for me was query langauges for the Semantic Web. RQL had a paper ; there was also an interesting talk on a peer to peer system for Education resources (Edutella), which had several levels of query langauges . Finally there was one about mapping part of XSLT to SQL, which was interesting because it was by very clever database people and because ideas in it might be stealable for RDF (because it uses unordered, graph structure to represent the query) . Later I went to see my colleague Dave Beckett give his talk  on WSE - scalable RDF searching. It was very well-received.
Saturday was Developer Day . There was a session on the Semantic Web, with lots of demos, including a talk from a Rob Corell from Adobe, on their implementation of a subset of RDF, called XMP ; a talk by Emmanuel Pietriga  about his vizualisation system for RDF data, IsaViz; Mike Dean , excellent as ever, creating tons of data for Semantic Web using screen scraping techniques. I demoed RDFAuthor  on behalf of Damian Steer (RDFAuthor is being used for a front end to the MEG [meg] project, collaborating with UKoln and working with Dave Beckett of ILRT), I also showed the codepiction  work I've been doing with Dan Brickley and Damian. There were 200+ people in a huge room.
In the afternoon I was working on some slides for a presentation in Luxembourg, so missed demos on Haystack and Annotea, the W3C's annotations system. There is plenty on IRC about them though . People were very impressed with Haystack, though it's not available yet, and will cost money.
I got back in just in time to see another demo of the codepiction work, and also the IRC 'chump bot' (a blogger that writes URLs from IRC to a webpage and enbles you to annotate them) on screen.
A nice aspect of the conference was the wireless network throughout the buildings. With an 80 dollar 802.11 wireless card you had a fast connection to the internet thoughout the conference. This is becoming increasingly common at conferences I've been going to in the past year, and leads to all sorts of unusual things happening. Maybe the most fun example is the use of Internet Relay Chat (IRC) to recommend good presentations, report back about what was going on in different sessions, and for rude backchat about the speakers. The RDF Interest group has an IRC channel which also serves as a place for people to recommend and annotate webpages . During the conference it was also used to describe the speeches that were going on and to recommend related links.
University of Bristol