Friday, 19 March 2010

Open Linked Data - a new frontier for knowledge diffusion

If you are not familiar with 'open linked data', allow me to introduce you to something that has the potential to take knowledge sharing in organisations to a whole new level. Tim Berners-Lee's TED presentation is a great introduction to the concept. Berners-Lee's vision is to

Instance linkages within the Linking Open Data...Image via Wikipedia

connect data on the web in much the way as we connect web pages now. Data drives a lot behind the scenes in our lives, but why not connect data about people, places, products in much the same way as web pages?

The Obama Administration is committed to making all US Government data available as open linked data, and the UK has made a great start with www.data.gov.uk and the London Datastore. It is a central part of Mygov, launched today. A great example is Dextrous Web have made all Greater London Authority expenditure over £1k accessible through open data. Mayor Boris Johnson sees this 'democracy of data' as a way of driving down costs, so both citizens and the GLA benefit. There are some great 'visualisations' of open data, for example cycle accidents blackspots shown on a google map.

The potential power of open linked data in breaking down silos and creating new insights from data on the web is phenomenal. This got me thinking. Why not make proprietary data 'open and linked' format within the corporate firewall? Why should logistics data or product data or markets data only be produced and used for a single purpose? It is after all a corporate asset. Who knows what might result if you were to provide access to the data and mashup or mapping capabilities? We all know the problems in getting siloed divisions and teams to share documents and knowledge. If the corporate standard were to publish all data in open linked format as well as documents (clearly there will be exceptions such as personal and contracts data), there would be no argument. By utilising a ubiquitous asset that has already been paid for, its data, I believe that an organisation might grab huge competitive advantage.

If you would like to know more about open linked data, there are some good tutorials and other resources on open linked data here.
KIN organisations will have the opportunity to explore this further at the member webinar on this topic on 18th May.
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