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Re: Review of Relevant Technologies section

From: Jon Phipps <jphipps@madcreek.com>
Date: Thu, 7 Jul 2011 08:28:06 -0500
Message-ID: <CAOyfVmH+puLz_XHP4H_D07DgC8PTS4GG=QTzVvra=Uw0syzaQw@mail.gmail.com>
To: Antoine Isaac <aisaac@few.vu.nl>
Cc: public-lld@w3.org
Antoine,
re:

...RDF is so closely matching the principles of linked data (data about
> things expressed using links) that it will be probably difficult to find
> something radically different.
>
> Antoine
>

I'm concerned that this is one area where the report draws an unsupportable
conclusion.

It's not the purpose of an XG group, as I understand it at least, to draw
this kind of conclusion. For instance I personally think that it's an open
question, worthy of serious investigation, of whether marc21 can be
distributed as linked data in more or less its current form. What are the
pros and cons? Is it technically feasible and what are the limitations? Do
the potential benefits outweigh the fairly severe limitations? Is it useful
as a transition to a more broadly useful technology?

We collectively may think that's nuts, but that doesn't mean that under the
broader definition of linked data it's not feasible or desirable or of
benefit to the community. It certainly fits with TBL's "raw data now"
message and the definition of Linked Data in the two most seminal Linked
Open Data papers:
http://tomheath.com/papers/bizer-heath-berners-lee-ijswis-linked-data.pdf
http://www.w3.org/DesignIssues/LinkedData.html

I think we should be far more careful than we have been so far about drawing
conclusions about library data and how it could best be expressed,
distributed, and aggregated in a linked data (not an exclusively RDF)
environment. If our sole message to the 'Library Community' is that in order
to participate in the 'Linked Data Community' they have to effectively
abandon their long-held notions of cataloging and librarianship and
radically change their entire data infrastructure, we run the serious risk
of driving that community away.

I believe that it's possible, and highly desirable, to present Linked Data
as a methodology, a way of thinking about data distribution and resource
description, rather than a specific technology, regardless of how
appropriate that single technology is to the task. We may collectively view
the data with some distaste, but the Library Community already has methods
in place for distributed maintenance, publishing, even identification of
data. Authority control, ISBN, ISSN, DOI, and many other methods of
collective, shared and even (textually) linking data have been
enthusiastically embraced by libraries for years. MARBI has made recent
efforts to provide for the inclusion of URIs in marc21 records. How is any
of this not Linked Data if the resources are identified by 'cool' URIs?

We need not be radicals to promote a Linked Data agenda. We shouldn't let
our enthusiasm for a particularly relevant technology blind us to the
potential benefits to the Library Community of at least proposing a serious
investigation into how that community can transition into a more open
environment without radically altering or discarding the concepts with which
they are most comfortable.

Let's get the data out of the library silos first, let people outside the
community "do interesting things" with it, and see what happens. Then lets
talk about RDF, because very shortly (certainly within 20 years ;-) ) the
benefits of Linked Open Data will be obvious (or not) and the Library
Community will enthusiastically embrace it (or not).
-- 
Jon
Received on Thursday, 7 July 2011 13:29:03 GMT

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