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June 2, 2011

[lodlam] The rise of Linked Open Data

At the Linked Open Data in Libraries, Archives and Museums conf [LODLAM], Jonathan Rees casually offered what I thought was useful a distinction. (Also note that I am certainly getting this a little wrong, and could possibly be getting it entirely wrong.)


Background: RDF is the basic format of data in the Semantic Web and LOD; it consists of statements of the form “A is in some relation to B.”


My paraphrase: Before LOD, we were trying to build knowledge representations of the various realms of the world. Therefore, it was important that the RDF triples expressed were true statements about the world. In LOD, triples are taken as a way of expressing data; take your internal data, make it accessible as RDF, and let it go into the wild…or, more exactly, into the commons. You’re not trying to represent the world; you’re just trying to represent your data so that it can be reused. It’s a subtle but big difference.


I also like John Wilbanks‘ provocative tweet-length explanation of LOD: “Linked open data is duct tape that some people mistake for infrastructure. Duct tape is awesome.”


Finally, it’s pretty awesome to be at a techie conference where about half the participants are women.

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June 10, 2010

Data.gov goes semantic

Data.gov has announced that it’s making some data sets available as RDF triples so Semantic Webbers can start playing with it. There’s an index of data here. The site says that even though only a relative handful of datasets have been RDF’ed, there are 6.4 billion triples available. They’ve got some examples of RDF-enabled visualizations here and here, and some more as well.

Data.gov also says they’re working with RPI to come up with a proposal for “a new encoding of datasets converted from CSV (and other formats) to RDF” to be presented for worldwide consideration: “We’re looking forward to a design discussion to determine the best scheme for persistent and dereferenceable government URI naming with the international community and the World Wide Web Consortium to promote international standards for persistent government data (and metadata) on the World Wide Web.” This is very cool. A Uniform Resource Identifier points to a resource; it is dereferenceable if there is some protocol for getting information about that resource. So, Data.gov and RPI are putting together a proposal for how government data can be given stable Web addresses that will predictably yield useful information about that data.

I think.

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