[open-data-manual] Linked Data - its place in the Open Data Manual

Jeen Broekstra jeen.broekstra at gmail.com
Wed Aug 3 23:50:11 UTC 2011

Hi there,

New list member here. My name is Jeen Broekstra, my background is in 
semantic web and linked data technology, and here's my $0.02:

On 04/08/11 11:02, Tim McNamara wrote:

> Linked Data - should it be in the manual? (yes)
> What level of detail? (introduction + glossary)

The main principles (the 4 steps) can be used as the base structure, 
using a couple of paragraphs for each step to elaborate.

I would perhaps go just a little bit into the technical side of things, 
glossing over the real implementation details, but just to show what the 
general idea is: a couple of simple examples of what, for example, an 
Excel spreadsheet would look like when 'translated' to linked data 
(RDF), and how a linked data API makes very powerful search/query over 
the data (via SPARQL) possible.

I guess that it should somehow tie in with the section on how to make 
data available (online methods) - right next to the "as an API" section?

> How will it get written? (Undecided, perhaps Italians write their own
> manual, then translate it into English)
> Ticket: https://github.com/okfn/opendatamanual/issues/19
> Detail
> --------
> Quite rightly, Linked Data has been raised in IRC:

Question: which IRC network/channel do you use for these discussions?

> <timClicks>  well.. we've just had a new italian team member
> <napo>  timClicks: maybe he want help, so this is good
> <napo>  timClicks: in this days 4 people asked to help
> <napo>  timClicks: and federico morando traslated the first version (80%)
> <napo>  timClicks: ah .. always from italy the are some suggestions for
> a chapter about linked data
> I think it will be a great enhancement of the manual to have some
> excellent introductory material. I have created a ticket
> (https://github.com/okfn/opendatamanual/issues/19) for anyone who
> would like to build a Linked Data section.
> Despite this, I'm wary. I don't want to scare data providers away by
> telling them that they need to start publishing wonderful RDF using
> well established ontologies. That could add lots of cost and
> complexity to an open data project.

For what it's worth, a little semantics goes a long way. Linked Data 
IMHO does not automatically imply that you do _everything_ using RDF and 
established ontologies.

What I think we should outline is the additional benefits that a Linked 
Data approach gives both publishers and consumers of open data, but also 
be upfront about the fact that (obviously) it requires more initial 
effort than just publishing a static CSV file.

Although to be fair, I don't think the effort in doing linked data is 
significantly more than the effort involved in developing your own 
custom API. It's more about unfamiliarity than about inherent technical 
complexity, IMHO.

> Here are my thoughts on the target level (from the ticket):
> "The manual shouldn't attempt to be a complete text book on everything
> related to Linked Data. It should attempt to explain the concepts in
> broad detail, outline the benefits and be realistic about the
> difficulties of the semantic web. We should provide pointers to
> (ideally openly licenced) sources of further information."
> "Concepts such as RDF, OWL, SPARQL and so forth should be included in
> the glossary."
> Do people agree with this?

I think that is a fine starting point. There's a good book on Linked 
Data by Chris Bizer and Tom Heath, available for free online:


Could be good source material to get some inspiration from, as well as a 
useful thing to point people to.

> Regarding the second point, and I hope he doesn't mind me saying this,

Not at all :)

> but one of the contributors of the Sesame* project, Jeen Broekstra is
> a member of this list. He lives here in Wellington and will probably
> be part of an informal semantic web/open data meetup group that I'm
> helping to start. I invited him a few weeks ago to join. He's
> expressed keen interest in assisting as time permits.

Thanks Tim. "Time permits" is always a bit of cop-out, I know, but I can 
happily write some introductory blurbs and glossary entries in the 
coming weeks, at least as a first draft.

Forgive the obvious newbie-questions (and feel free to tell me to RTFM), 
but: how do I get started, what format is preferable?

Should I write something in OpenOffice (or HTML, or LaTeX, or....) and 
post it here, or is the idea that authors commit to git (I'm a complete 
git-newbie by the way)? Either way works for me.



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