Another a-ha moment

Posted by laura on May 2, 2011 under Semantic web, Standards | Be the First to Comment

Another librarian has seen the Linked Data light.  Mita Williams, the New Jack Librarian, writes about gaining a new appreciation for LOD at the recent Great Lakes THAT camp.  Her take-away seems similar to my understanding: librarians already know how to created Linked Data.  We need to see the application of the Linked Data in new contexts in order to comprehend the utility of exposing the data.  The tricky bit IMHO is that creating applications to use the data requires a SPARQL end point.  These SPARQL end points aren’t geared for humans. They are a “machine-friendly interface towards a knowledge base.”

I think the machine application layer of Linked Data is where librarians hit a barrier when getting involved with Linked Open Data (LOD).  I don’t have the first clue how to set up a SPARQL end point.  My technical expertise isn’t there and I’m sure there are a lot of people in the same boat (CODE4LIBers notwithstanding).  Most of the stuff I’ve read about getting libraries more involved in LOD has focused on explaining how RDF is done in subject predicate object syntax then urging libraries to get their metadata transformed into RDF.  I’ve seen precious little plain English instruction on building an app with Linked Data.  I have seen great demos on nifty things done by people in library-land.  I’ll give a shout out here to John Mark Ockerbloom and his use of id.loc.gov to enhance the Online Books Page.   John Mark Ockerbloom has a PhD in computer science.   How do the rest of us get there?

Personally, I’m working with the fine folks here to get our metadata in a ready to use Linked Data format.  And I’m plowing through the jargon laden documentation to teach myself next steps.  Jon Voss, LOD-LAM summit organizer, has posted a reading list to help and soliciting contributions.  The first title I’m delving into is Heath & Bizer’s Linked Data: Evolving the Web into a Global Data Space which has a free HTML version available.  They include a groovy little diagram which outlines the steps in the process of “getting there.”  I’m heartened to see that our 1st step (getting the data ready) reflects the 1st step in the diagram.

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