W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-lld@w3.org > June 2011

Re: For review: Benefits, Part I

From: René van der Ark <Rene.vanderArk@KB.nl>
Date: Mon, 20 Jun 2011 14:28:40 +0200
Message-ID: <DB8FA84D05D2DB42B4A98BDB3E5558D6C4055A@goofy>
To: <public-lld@w3.org>
Dear sir/madam,


I would like to give some small feedback in general terms, especially focusing on the ambiguity in the interpretation of format and data between the 'traditional' librarian and the information technologist.


On benefits.

It would be good to stress the fact that opening up your data to the world helps to involve developers of innovative technologies from many different backgrounds. It is a crucial step for cultural heritage institutions, especially libraries, to adopt a more open approach to bridge the gap between 'real world' successes out on the web and the trove of information the interested and informed public are longing to work with. However, cultural heritage institutions seem to have a tendency to want to push their rich collections to the user in stead of working on a demand driven basis. I believe that opening up your collections as (raw) linked data will enthuse innovators that are more in tune with the demand-driven 'real' world. 


For example, the phrase "Library data is expressed primarily as text strings, not "linkable" URIs" is posed as a serious issue. Yes, it is a serious hampering in linking data, but why should it hold you back from opening up your data? If you keep on perfecting techniques for changing strings into reliable URI's and keep waiting to open up your data until you feel you have achieved adequate quality in your data you will never be satisfied enough to take the next step. Why not crowd source this activity? Why not trust the community to come up with smart ways to handle this issue. In my view, this is what (linked) open data is all about. Let things grow organically and loosen control.


On that note, I would like to see more emphasis on the paragraphs devoting attention on bridging the gap between IT and the library. My impression is that there is one persisting prevalent misunderstanding about data-formats. Librarians tend to see the format in which their authority data is stored as something that should be static and conforming to well laid out standards, whereas the IT view on data-formats is that it is nothing more and nothing less than a mode of transport. Yes, data should conform to some standards for machine readability, but the package it comes in should not be leading and if it should conform then only to the most broadly used standard available. Yes, these standards for transport change all the time, but that does nothing to harm the integrity and reliability of your authority data; it is just a response format to a request. By no means do I disapprove of all the effort being made to standardize protocols for data formats, but I would just like to point out that it can have a seriously stagnating effect on innovation if it is the leading focus of every discussion.


With kind regards and good luck,



René van der Ark

Research programmer

Dep. Research 

KB, National Library of the Netherlands


E rene.vanderark@kb.nl <mailto:rene.vanderark@kb.nl> 

T (070) 3140983

F (070) 3140424
Received on Monday, 20 June 2011 17:33:29 UTC

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