Linked Data – for the enlightened non-geek reader (or dummies) (or managers)

OCLC had some big announcements about linked data this past week. My colleagues, Roy Tennant and Richard Wallis, both have good blog posts (Roy’s) (Richard’s) explaining the what and the why of making WorldCat data available in a linked data format. The announcements got nice press and supportive criticism from people like Ed Chamberlain and Adrian Pohl.

It also caused folks to wonder if I could explain linked data to them.


There are, however, some very brief, very elementary explanations out there that ought to do the job for this interested but non-nerd audience.

I recommend these brief videos which convey the rudiments about RDFa, JSON and Linked Data. The fellow who did them has a nice manner, charms with his hand-drawn flash cards and gives you enough while steering around the usual avalanche of angle brackets that characterize other explanations. Plus the videos share the same introductory stuff so you can slide forward on the subsequent videos. (to Bruce Washburn and Jeff Young)

For something slicker and a bit more substantial try A skim-read introduction to linked data by two of the technologists in the BBC Research and Development Group. Toggle between the slide view and the continuous scroll view if you’re impatient.

And if you need parables you could try this post Linked Data for Dummies or A dummy’s introduction to linked data (me being the dummy).

And if you insist on a use case here’s the oldest and best – Use of Semantic Web Technologies on the BBC Web Sites

The ‘enlightened non-geek reader’ phrase draws on a comment made to me by Chet Grycz when he was at the University of California Press. He used to talk about ENSORs saying that all university press people believed in these mythical creatures. Press people were confident that were lots of ENSORs out in the wild but in fact no press person had ever had a personal encounter with one. Okay, Chet, what’s an ENSOR? An Enlightened Non-Scholarly Reader. 😉

Update 8 August 2012 OCLC just released a video explaining linked data on our YouTube channel. It’s quite good, very informative and graphically rich. If you’re motivated to understand the basics, want to know why this is important to libraries, and how linked data will make a difference then this will reward the approximately fifteen minutes it takes to view.

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