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Re: [agenda] eGov IG Call, 25 Nov 2009, item 6

From: Kingsley Idehen <kidehen@openlinksw.com>
Date: Wed, 25 Nov 2009 09:50:50 -0500
Message-ID: <4B0D444A.4050907@openlinksw.com>
To: chris-beer@grapevine.net.au
CC: Thomas Bandholtz <thomas.bandholtz@innoq.com>, josema.alonso@fundacionctic.org, public-egov-ig@w3.org, public-lod@w3.org
Chris Beer wrote:
> I think Thomas makes some excellent points.
> Is it possible as a group to agree on something akin to the following?
> 1) Open Data refers to how data is accessed and is primarily a 
> political/policy consideration
Structured Data based on industry standard data representation formats. 
Just as UNIX came down to POSIX. Ditto Internet re. TCP/IP. Openness is 
about Standards, and has nothing to do with politics or philosophy.

You can institute policies that mandate the use of industry standard 
data formats re. data placed in the public domain or simply published 
for reuse by others.
> 2) Linked (Open) Data refers to how data is structured and delivered 
> and is primarily a technological/standards consideration
To be precise: HTTP based Linked Open Data.  This is about the 
incorporation of HTTP scheme Identifiers into data that has be published 
using a standard data representation format.

Note: to get data into any standard data representation format there has 
to be a formal data model. At the most basic, said model takes the form: 
Entity-Attribute-Value. In the case of Linked Open Data, you have the 
intersection of the following:

1. EAV model
2. Standard Data Formats
3. HTTP scheme Identifiers (HTTP URIs).
> 3) The majority of datasets, LOD or not, that are of real value, are 
> developed, maintained and delivered by Government, like it or not. We 
> know this without even looking at the LOD Projects work 
> <http://esw.w3.org/topic/SweoIG/TaskForces/CommunityProjects/LinkingOpenData#head-277d7f68544ce1a9e252f5c0080b6402cd983a49> 
> (which interestingly, contains very little Government data, which is a 
> worry as it possibly indicates that Governments just AREN'T getting on 
> board with early take up of LOD, despite the various legal 
> requirements coming out world wide).
How have you arrived at the above bearing in mind the pivotal role of 
DBpedia?  Basically, this is about a  Linked Open Data Space derived 
from Wikipedia snapshots which have little or no Govt. data. Of course, 
things get much better across depth, quality, and linked density 
dimensions when Govt. data is cross linked with LOD spaces like DBpedia etc.
> 3) We accept that Linked (Open) Data is the purview of the Linking 
> Open Data W3C Project - there is probably little we can add to the 
> discussion here apart from supporting them in thier own work of IDing 
> datasets that can be linked.
> In support of this point, e-Government will be as any other entity in 
> this regard, and the methodologies in delivering LOD will not likely 
> differ to the rest of the world or society, much as there is little 
> difference in Web Content Delivery between Government models and 
> Commercial/Public models. In that sense I agree with Thomas 100% when 
> it comes to a technology model. It will be Semantic, and RDF is likely 
> to become the dominant paradigm, if not the only one.
> 5) Open Data therefore is what we SHOULD be focused on - not in the 
> sense of forcing a standard on Gov in terms of Open Data Delivery 
> policy, but in Education and Outreach.
> The question of non-RDF data consumers is almost moot. Given the time 
> scales we are operating on, it is akin to asking at the start of the 
> first version of HTML "how does hyperlinked content support .txt based 
> users such as BBS systems". Non semantic, non-RDF, pre HTML 5 browsers 
> and technologies will be legacy before we know it, probably while we 
> are still discussing all this. I mean it.
> This leaves us with two outcomes. The first is that the current user 
> base that Thomas identifies as professional RDF consumers will 
> inevitably drive the conversion of their suppliers data into RDF/XML 
> formats, essentially as a snowball effect. GIS Data is a good example 
> of where this is already happening.

RDF/XML really has little to do with the matter, at best its just a data 
representation option for an EAV model variant i.e., RDF Data Model.

I guess, RDF/XML will continue distract us for as long as it has 
preeminence in the Semantic Web Layer Cake :-(
> The second is that as Thomas says,  human-readable formats  HAVE to be 
> provided - ultimately the user is human, and the transition on the 
> tech side between how the machine reads it, and how it is displayed to 
> the user in a usable, displayable form should be seamless. Ultimately 
> the user should not even realise that they are doing anything but 
> looking at a web page of results that they have asked a server for.
Essence of Linked Data is server the representation requested by the 
User Agent. If they want HTML you send an HTML+RDFa representation of a 
resource description etc.. Basically, this is just about using HTTP's 
in-built prowess, the right way.

The value of HTML representations of resource descriptions remains too 
under appreciated re. overall demonstration of the real virtues of: HTTP 
based Linked Data and/or HTTP based Linked Open Data.
> This is where I do disagree with Thomas. A Federation of providers is 
> a nice concept, but it is too far off to think about, and will be 
> inevitable in the end so probably doesn't need to be focused on. I 
> believe that the key to overcoming the mistrust issue is three-fold:
> a) Focusing on educating Governments on WOG methodologies in adopting 
> inter-agency delivery on a National level - ie: promote the creation 
> of the data.gov.* model. The international model is far to scary a 
> prospect for most Governments to contemplate.
> b) Educating Government on the ROI in making Data open to the public
> c) Educating Government in ways in which "clearly marked-off data 
> spaces with a trusted provenance" can still mean open data delivery 
> for all - essentially this already happens whenever data is published, 
> even in a HTML/PDF format - having data in the public domain does not 
> mean giving access to the original uncorrupted dataset.
Yes, but the story is really much shorter and simpler: just get everyone 
to understand that its about adding LINK granularity to what they 
already have out on the Web (re. Linked Open Data initiatives). It isn't 
about some difficult to read or comprehend format called RDF/XML, its 
just about the evolution of LINKS i.e., we are moving from "Container to 
Container LINKs" to "Data Items to Data Item LINKs" :-)

> Just some thoughts.
> Cheers
> Chris
> Thomas Bandholtz wrote:
>> There has been much discussion about *Open* Data in the eGov list these
>> days, which is a rather political question.
>> I am currently not so much concerned about openness, more about *Linked*
>> Data, as we have tons of government data with a legal obligation to make
>> them available to the public (at least in Europe, and especially
>> environmental data), and we are looking for means to do so in the most
>> efficient way.
>> So, among the six items of today's agenda, I find number 6 the most
>> challenging:
>>> 6. Discussion: Government Linked Data, Techniques and Technologies
>>> [35min]
>> some considerations:
>>> + how does linked data support (non-RDF) data consumers?
>> First of all: Linked Data supports RDF data consumers.
>> Human readable formats should also be provided based on content
>> negotiation. Some providers have dedicated HTML formats, others have
>> not. Those who haven't depend on some available, general purpose "linked
>> data browser".
>> The latest discussion about the state of such tools has been started by
>> http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-lod/2009Oct/0105.html, and I
>> am afraid the state-of-the-art of such browsers cannot compete with a
>> well-made dedicated HTML page (how could it).
>> So one might say linked data supports non-RDF data consumers rather
>> badly, but there a two objections:
>>     * even non-RDF data consumers benefit from the availability of some
>>       linked data which would not be available in the Web at all if not
>>       generated with D2R (or similar)
>>     * even non-RDF data consumers benefit from the extensive and
>>       systematic linkage provided by Linked Data which is rather unusual
>>       for common HTML pages.
>> I think the value of this question is somehow disputable, as - aside
>> form any content negotiation - linked data supports RDF consumers at
>> first. These consumers are mostly professionals who depend on government
>> data in order to do their work. So I would rather ask:
>> "How do professional RDF data consumers integrate linked data into their
>> working data bases today?"
>>> + strategies for modelling government data
>> Well, I would say, the basic model is RDF in this case ;-).
>> We are wasting too much time with efforts on "harmonising" models in a
>> waterfall manner (see http://inspire.jrc.ec.europa.eu/, for example)
>> instead of just publish it somehow.
>> One of TBL's Do's and Don'ts reads:
>> "Do NOT wait until you have a complete schema or ontology to publish data. "
>> http://www.w3.org/DesignIssues/GovData
>> I do not see any problem about schema diversity. However, we should make
>> use of existing schemas which have proved to work well. For example, the
>> OGC Observation and Measurement XML schema:
>> http://www.opengeospatial.org/standards/om
>> OM is expressed as an XML schema, not in RDF so far. But it expresses
>> perfectly clarified semantics about any kind of measurement data of
>> whatever kind of sensor, including timelines. XSD and URN patterns are
>> some drawbacks of this formalisation, but this could be resolved by a
>> RDF reformulation of the same semantics easily.
>> The most important aspect again is linkage. When expressing what or
>> where has been measured, don't use a dumb character string, but link to
>> a reference vocabulary.
>>> + essential metadata for Government Linked Open Data (eg VoiD)
>> VoiD is a good start. I wouldn't overestimate the need for metadata as
>> long as you can access the data itself. Metadata was a great thing in
>> former times when data access was a complex issue, so you would like to
>> know what you will get before starting the effort to get access to it.
>> If the data itself is linked to reference vocabularies extensively, the
>> data vs. metadata discussion ends in smoke.
>>> + expressing rights and licensing information
>> VoiD can do this.
>>> + approaches to provenance, authority and trust
>> Government generally is not so amused about the open world assumption,
>> they prefer clearly marked-off data spaces with a trusted provenance.
>> I think mistrust can be overcome by federation of providers. Federated
>> agencies can easily state that they trust each provider in this
>> federation. Just set up a domain for such a federation, link to this
>> federation from the data, and to the data from the federation.
>> No problem if anybody is publishing her own possibliy weird statements
>> about the same things as long as the federarion does not link to this data.
>> One rather developed case of such a sub-cloud is Linking Open Drug Data
>> (LODD).
>> see http://esw.w3.org/topic/HCLSIG/LODD
>> We might learn from them.
>>> + using RDF for Statistical Data
>> Parts of EUROSTAT have been published in SCOVO
>> http://sw.joanneum.at/scovo/schema.html.
>> Even SDMX is apparently moving towards SCOVO.
>> Does anyone see an alternative approach?
>> Looking forward to discussion this afternoon (well, in my time).
>> Thomas
>> (consulting the Federal Environment Agency in Germany)



Kingsley Idehen	      Weblog: http://www.openlinksw.com/blog/~kidehen
President & CEO 
OpenLink Software     Web: http://www.openlinksw.com
Received on Wednesday, 25 November 2009 14:51:30 UTC

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