Linked Data: It’s not a top-down system. Berners-Lee and OpenGov

There’s not much noise about Semantic Web these days. But in the fascinating and creative semantic-web niche activities go on.

Once more Tim Berners-Lee explains what Linked data are.

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The 5-star system helps measuring i.e. how far or near open-gov data  are from being part of the Semantic Web.

Available on the web (whatever format), but with an open licence

★★

Available as machine-readable structured data (e.g. excel instead of image scan of a table)

★★★

as (2) plus non-proprietary format (e.g. CSV instead of excel)

★★★★

All the above plus, Use open standards from W3C (RDF and SPARQL) to identify things, so that people can point at your stuff

★★★★★

All the above, plus: Link your data to other people’s data to provide context

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And there is a interesting example how Linked Data are published:

‘Linked data is data in which real-world things are given addresses on the web (URIs), and data is published about them in machine-readable formats at those locations. Other datasets can then point to those things using their URIs, which means that people using the data can find out more about something without that information being copied into the original dataset.

This page lists the sectors for which we currently publish linked data and some additional resources that will help you to use it. Most sectors have one or more SPARQL endpoints, which enable you to perform searches across the data; you can access these interactively on this site‘.

Evaluating

What’s the effect of open data? Some journals (like the Guardian) make ample use of open data, but there is no wide-spread activity or commitment or lots of evaluation studies to be seen. Infoweek just published an article about US open gov and found that there is a lot  to be done as only small groups seem to take notice of this government activity. ‘The most difficult part of open government may be getting the public to participate.   … the “if you build it, they will come” approach simply doesn’t work.’ (InformationWeek, Feb 21, 2011: Open Government Reality Check: Federal agencies are making progress on the Obama administration’s Open Government Directive, but there’s still a long way to go. Here’s our list of top priorities.)

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