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Has Open and Linked Data failed?

October 26th, 2011 by Graham Attwell

I am intrigued by this presentation. Whilst I appreciate what Chris Taggart, who has been invo0lved in the development of the opencorporates and openlylocal data sites (and who undoubtedly has more experience and knowledge than me of the use of Open and Linked Data) I would be less pessimistic. I see the use of open and linked data as in very early days.

Firstly, although I appreciate that politicians and bureaucrats do not always want to release data – I think there is still a groundswell in favour of making data available – at least in Europe. Witness yesterdays unveiling of the Italian Open data store (sorry, I can’t find the url at the moment). And although Google search results do not help promote open data sites (and I am not a great fan of Google at the moment after they wiped out my account ten days again), they have contributed very useful tools such as Refine, Fusion Tables and Public Data Explorer.

I still think that as Chris Taggart says in one of his first slides the biggest challenge is relevance. And here I wonder if one of the problems is that Open and Linked Data specialists are just that – specialist developers in their own field. Many of the applications released so far on the UK Data store, whilst admiral examples of the art of development – would seem to have little practical use.

Maybe it is only when the tools and knowledge of how to work with Open and Linked data are adopted by developers and others in wonder social and subject areas that the true benefits will begin to show. Open data applications may work best, not through dedicated apps or sites, but when incorporated in other web sites which provide them with context and relevance. Thus we have been working with the use of open and linked data for careers guidance (see our new web site, which includes working demonstrations).

Bu even more important may be finding ways of combining Open and Linked data with other forms of (human) knowledge and intelligence. It is just this form of knowledge – for instance the experiences and informal knowledge of careers guidance professionals, which brings relevance and context to the data from official data sets. And that provides a new design challenge.

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