“Natural language processing” comes in all shapes and sizes. “Sentiment analysis” may be the biggest, practical application of NLP these days. Both “Big data” and the “Internet of Things” will undoubtedly drive more interest in NLP applications of all kinds.
I am most interested in “Dialog system” applications. I have not been able to identify commonly used or readily available dialog system applications based primarily on conventional NLP; however, there do seem to be more and more NLP APIs coming online. For instance, there is now a developerWorks Q&A Forum for the newly available IBM Watson Ecosystem APIs. In terms of traditional “Pattern matching” dialog systems, the “Loebner Prize” crowd holds court on the Robitron Yahoo Group; otherwise, various and sundry chatbot hobbyists (usually computer professionals in real life) may be found on the Chatbots.org “AI Zone” forums.
I would like to learn about more (kinds of) active NLP forums, in particular for practical applications (in other words, other than for pure, academic research).