Radically Open Cultural Heritage Data on the Web

I was extremely fortunate to be part of a panel session at SXSW Interactive 2012, held this month as always in the amazing City of Austin, Texas.  The panel, Radically Open Cultural Heritage Data on the Web, was put together by Jon Voss, Strategic Partnerships Director at Historypin, leader of Linked Open Data for Library Archives and Museums (LODLAM) activity and a fantastic voice in the LODLAM space. Joining Jon on the panel was Adrian Stevenson, Senior Technical Innovations Coordinator at Mimas and Project Manger of the excellent LOCAH project and Rachel Frick, Director of the Digital Library Federation and heavily involved in the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA).

Details (and audio) of the panel session can be found on the SXSW site, and my slides are available on slideshare. Adrian has also made his slides available.

Between the four of us, we gave an overview of what linked data is, why it matters to libraries, archives and museums, how people have put data out there already, how others are beginning to consume that data, and how people might get involved. My presentation focussed on York’s OpenART project where we have put almost 40,000 linked data documents on the web. This represents a huge success for our project, which was run on a shoestring budget and timescale. Our approach to exposing data is certainly not perfect, but it’s a significant step for us towards opening our data up for others to work with.

The linked and open data area is certainly growing and beginning to be recognised within the semantic web community. I attended Libraries, Media & The Semantic Web hosted by the BBC on the 28th March 2012 where Jon Voss and Adrian spoke on the same platform as speakers from the New York Times, the BBC and Google. It was particularly encouraging to hear that the BBC has invested a huge amount (20% of it’s Digital budget) into linked data for the Olympics coverage, and also from Dan Brickley (Google) who confirmed the forthcoming support for RDF/A in schema.org. Video from that event will be made available online on the BBC Academy YouTube Channel, and it’s worth watching all of the speakers. JISC have also recently published an interesting article on Linked Data in the recent issue of JISC Inform.

I’m encouraged by the signs of open relationships and willingness to work together to make standards and approaches work, and by the increasing efforts to open up data. I feel that York Digital Library (and perhaps the University more widely) should continue to invest effort into linked open data.

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