Re: Civic apps and Linked Data

On 6/26/13 10:03 AM, Alvaro Graves wrote:
> Hello everyone,
> A few days ago I attended ABRELATAM'13 an unconference focused on Open 
> Data in Latin America. I proposed a session about Open Data + Linked 
> Data to discuss how semantics and LOD in general can help government 
> and civi organizations. I want to share the main ideas that emerged 
> from the conversation:
> - SW/LOD sounds really cool and the direction where thing should move.
> - However there are many technical aspects that remain unsolved
> - Since for many people having a relatively good solution using CSV, 
> JSON, etc. is easier, they don't want to use SW/LOD because it is an 
> overkill and too complicated.

The "overkill and complicated" misconception is something you tackle by 
demonstrating the dexterity of Linked Data, RDF based Linked Data, and 
the Semantic Web stack, in progressive steps. For instance, here is how 
I work with folks that are familiar with CSV:

1. get them to show me what's processing the CSV -- typically this is 
some cool visualization app.
2. present them with a URL that produces similar CSV output (but I also 
include Linked Data URIs in this output)
3. show them how their CSV consumer still works without change.

Once the beachead above is established, I go into "may I now show you 
this little enhancement" mode whereby I show the effect of the Linked 
Data URIs included in the tweaked CSV payload. Following that, I may 
start peeling back the onion showing that the CSV was delivered via a 
URL and that said URL is a natural feature of SPARQL etc..

> So my question is: Why we don't see lots of civic apps using Linked Data?

Maybe because we sometimes forget to build bridges en route to 
establishing rapport with this audience profile. You can take the 
approach I outlined above or you can tell them how wrong whatever it is 
they are doing because they haven't learned and mastered RDF etc..

> Where are the SW activists? Why we haven't been able to demonstrate to 
> the hacker community the benefits of using semantic technologies?

Because, in my experience, the approach I just outlined isn't the norm. 
This is all about integrating with what exists rather than building afresh.

> Is it because they are hard to use?

A misconception compounded by taking the wrong route to establishing 

> They don't scale well in many cases (as a googled pointed out)?


> Are we too busy working in academia/businesses?


We just need to be varied in our approaches i.e., let the audience set 
the context into which we unleash the dexterity of Linked Data, RDF, and 
the Semantic Web stack. That means, learning to tell the same story in 
different ways. Take every opportunity like this to test and refine 
anecdotes and demos that complement your narrative. Resist to urge to 
say "because X said so" or because "its a standard mandated by Y"  etc..

> I know very few civic apps using semantic technologies and I don't 
> think I have seen anyone that has made real impact in any country.

You can change that quickly !

> I would love if you can prove me wrong and if we can discuss how can 
> we involve more activists and hackers into the SW/LOD community.

Maybe a thread titled Linked Data for the CSV savvy could be a nice 
bootstrap aiding thread :-)


1. -- CSV browser powered by SPARQL-FED from UK 
Ordnance Survey Linked Data
2. -- ditto using Health.Data.Gov data
3. -- Google Spreadheet based crowd-sourcing teaser
4. -- importing Linked Data into a Google 
Spreadsheet (which is also about SPARQL URLs that return CSV output)
5. -- ditto using Excel.

> Alvaro Graves-Fuenzalida
> Web: - Twitter: @alvarograves



Kingsley Idehen	
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Received on Wednesday, 26 June 2013 16:28:58 UTC