[Profile picture of Ruben Verborgh]

Ruben Verborgh

Research is teamwork

No research ever happens in isolation: collaboration drives us all.

Research is a rewarding job. You get to work on a cool thing, communicate about it, travel around the world to demonstrate it to others… But most of all, you get the opportunity to work together with highly talented people, in ways that are impossible in industry. The International Semantic Web Conference reunited people working on future Web technology for the 12th year in a row, and I was very lucky to be there. Moreover, our MMLab team, together with the Web & Media Group of the VU, set a new record by winning the Best Demo Award two consecutive years. I’ve come to realize how important communicating and collaborating with people are for good research—simply invaluable.

Having been in research for over 3 years now, and nearing the completion of my PhD, it’s interesting to look back and see what has contributed most to where I am know and where I want to go next. Without any doubt, collaboration with other researchers is the crucial factor on my list. When I started out at MMLab, only few people were conducting Semantic Web research and I found it hard to fit in, as the subtopics were very diverse. By now, the team has grown to 20 members and it’s precisely this diversity that makes conversations interesting and fruitful.

Last year, our ISWC demo Everything Is Connected was a bridge between many of the subtopics we were working on. This year is no different: I shared my experience on git with my colleagues working on provenance to create Git2PROV. This tool automatically converts your git repository into machine-readable provenance, as described in our paper together with Sara and Paul from the Vrije Universiteit of Amsterdam. What I liked especially about this collaboration is how smooth everything went, and that I learned a lot about provenance in the process!

[Multimedia Lab and Web & Media Group win the Best Demo Award at ISWC 2013]
Winning the Best Demo Award at ISWC 2013, thanks to a great collaboration.

In fact, all great things that ever happened to me all came through other people. Seth, Max and myself have toured the world with our Free Your Metadata project, which also resulted in two books. With Tom, I’ve had lots of fun writing cool papers and doing nice experiments. And with the ever growing enthusiastic Semantic Web team at MMLab, I’ve shared many great moments and worked on fascinating stuff… and the best is yet to come!

Try to work with as many people as you can, they’re the best assets in the world.

Ruben Verborgh

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