Open Data #ioe12

Tim Berners-Lee talks on his TEDtalk about how he originated the World Wide Web. The memo he wrote about it was read by his boss (who after his boss’s death was found to have the words “Vague but exciting” written on it). I’m thinking of adopting that as one of my own taglines because of the amount of ideas I propose and receive little interest and even less understanding. (I’m not saying my own ideas are of Tim Berners-Lee’s scale of impact.)

It was a grassroots movement that launched the Web and it was this community that excited Tim. He asked people to put their documents onto the Web, and people did. In his words, “It’s been a blast.” Now he asks us all to put our Data onto the Web.

He refers to Hans Rosling, who also says that it’s important to have a lot of data available. I’d previously seen Hans Rosling’s TEDtalk and also his presentation on a BBC television programme. Tim is going further, however, with his concept of Linked Data, where everybody is putting everything on the web, and therefore virtually everything you could image is on the web. He asks for three things to be observed in this process:

  1. Everything has a http ‘name’ – events, products, things, people, etc.
  2. When someone fetches something with a http name it returns some standard data (information) in a format that people will find useful – something about the event, that person, etc.
  3. The data returned shows relationships; importantly the data has relationships and these related data also carry http names that allow them to be looked up, etc.

Google, Microsoft and Yahoo have agreed to use standardized formats for data as outlined at Schema.org

Another interesting phrase to come out of the videos is ‘Database Hugging’, coined by Hans. Tim demonstrated it as though he was actually hugging something with his arms. The idea is that people, governments, institutions don’t want to release their data until they’ve created a lovely website to display it. Tim says, by all means make a beautiful website, but first give us the unadulterated data, emphasized with the chanted phrase – ’Raw Data Now’.

Linked Data’ useful links:

The site that draws together useful information about Linked Data is linkeddata.org
There you’ll find, amongst other things:

  • Guides and Tutorials
    • Key Reference Documents
    • Textual Guides/Tutorials
    • Video Tutorials
    • Introductory Slide Sets
    • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Tools
    • Linked Data Publishing Platforms/Frameworks
    • Linked Data/RDF Editors and Validators
    • Tools for Consuming Linked Data
    • Linked Data Applications for End Users

A point that Tim makes in his video at t=11m30s is about the sharing of data to enable Open Science activities to occur, which links in nicely to the previous topic in the Openness in Education course about Open Science.

Tim Berners-Lee returns to do a short TEDtalk ‘updating’ the situation with Open Data:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3YcZ3Zqk0a8

It is interesting to see that over this time we have witnessed more of a willingness by governments in areas across the world to share data openly in what has become know as Open Government or ‘opengov’. So in the US you have sites like the one in the topic readings, and in the UK you have ones including data.gov.uk from HM Government; a BBC interview with Tim Berners-Lee on the project that brought about data.gov.uk is available.

Areas of the media are making it easier and more convenient to use open data and allow individuals to interrogate and interpret the data to provide useful information to them. Examples being The New York Times in the US and The Guardian in the UK (which enables questions to be asked of government data from around the world). The Guardian also has a section online that is dedicated to the journalistic use of open data, called the Data Store.

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Web 3.0 on Vimeo

Very interesting Vimeo hosted video about the future of the web; what we need to do and where it needs to go. I really understood this one.

Content isn’t king after all; context is.

We need to capture the meaning and relationship of data. And current searches aren’t efficient and they don’t scale up. At the moment when you do a search you have to do most of the work. You have to consider the criteria. If the search returns results you weren’t wanting, you have to redefine your parameters. Tim Berners-Lee says,

That’s not a search. You’re parachuting in and crossing your fingers hoping to land on something interesting.

Tim Berners-Lee

With all the information that’s out there, if it isn’t indexed in an accessible form it might as well not be out there.

Chris Dixon, hunch.com CEO

Before long every item will have a page on the web. Right now every tweet is a page on the web. How do you filter?

Anyway, watch Kate Ray’s video:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

TED Tim Berners-Lee: Data goes Global

Tim Berners-Lee came back to TED to talk about how his previous call for data to be put online is beginning to come to fruition. In a brief 5min video he presents examples of how governments are making data available and others are able to use it and create mashup to make connection not otherwise identified.

BBC documentary ‘Digital Revolution’

The BBC is developing a unique four part documentary series for broadcast in 2010 on BBC Two. It has a working title of ‘Digital Revolution‘, and there are a number of ways we can all get involved, including helping Stephen Fry to come up with a better name for the series, and shaping the content of the series.

BBCDIG

Here’s some blurb from the Digital Revolution website about the project:

‘Digital Revolution’ is an experiment in collaboration. We want to hear the opinions, thoughts and experiences from the populace of the web – you. Add your comments to our blog posts. Tell us the stories you think we should be covering. Your input will help shape our documentary.

One of the things I personally find exciting about the project is that as many as possible of the video rushes† are being made available by the site for us to watch, share, download and, significantly, edit ourselves (adhering to the licensing terms, which are similar to Creative Commons but have to differ because of the way the BBC is funded and run). This ties in with a previous post about Remix. Some of the people interviewed and available in these rushes include:

  • Tim Berners-Lee
  • Clay Shirky
  • Charles Leadbeater
  • Howard Rheingold
  • Stephen Fry
  • Jimmy Wales

many of whom I’ve written about, used quotes or photographs of in presentations or writings, or communicated with directly.

When I have time, possibly next week, I’ll certainly be remixing this video content.

You can follow Digital Revolution on Twitter @BBCDigRev

Rushes (or dailies) are the unedited, raw film (video) footage from a days shooting.