Welcome to the ADHO Linked Open Data (LOD) initiative

Welcome to the new Linked Open Data (LOD) community site.

The LOD group has formed in an attempt to develop and promote a research infrastructure for the Digital Humanities (DH) community.  DH has been around for many years and continues to expand and evolve as quickly and nebulously as the digital content it uses as its foundation.  Discovery tools like Google Scholar, Worldcat, and other search engines provide access to individual resources.  These tools are extremely useful but they remain synonymous to traditional on-site research methods that force scholars to work independently.  LOD offers researchers an infrastructure in which they can begin to collaborate with other scholars, librarians, students, and anyone interested in their topic of study.  LOD provides us a way to make our own bodies of research relevant to a broader cultural and social context.

So what is LOD exactly, and how does it work?

Linked Open Data by this definition is guided by the Linked Open Data ‘rules’ described by Tim Berners-Lee at: http://www.w3.org/DesignIssues/LinkedData.html

  1. Use URIs as names for things (not just web pages!)
  2. Use HTTP URIs so that people can look up those names.
  3. When someone looks up a URI, provide useful information, using the standards (RDF*, SPARQL)
  4. Include links to other URIs. so that they can discover more things.

With the adjunct rule (rule zero) that the data should be openly available on the Web.

We do not expect that all resources should adopt all rules, but see this as an aspirational goal, acknowledging that this will be an organic process, leading to unexpected and serendipitous connectivity over time.  Technologies typically deployed in an LOD context (RDF, SPARQL, and above all HTTP URIs) do not provide a complete solution set for DH challenges, let alone Humanities challenges, but function as ‘glue’ between larger systems in which other technologies (such as JavaScript, JSON, web mapping, etc.) come into play.

Undertaking this process is by no means straightforward and many of the challenges are social rather than technical.  In particular there is a need for conventional (as opposed to standardized) adoption of URI-based vocabularies for shared concept schemes, which may include places, people or thesaurus terms.  Given the social nature of these questions, it is extremely important to maintain a public forum in which those with an interest in LOD in the Digital Humanities, can encounter colleagues with related interests (in terms of content, information structures, or both), and assist them in the process of relating their work in ways that improve their discovery and cross-navigability.

This ADHO LOD group intends to act as an online forum for:

  • the mutual discovery of projects that wish to connect openly and multilaterally
  • identification of common controlled vocabularies, gazetteers and thesauri
  • discussing best practice in SKOS, vocabulary management, semantic annotation for specific use cases.*
  • promote wider understanding of LOD among digital humanists:
    a) coordinating workshops for THATCamp and relevant conferences
    b) publish white papers and reports for practitioners
    c) suggest/develop curricula
  • fostering cross-links to SIGs concerned with LOD in other domains.**

This group is open to anyone with an interest in LOD and its use and potential for the Digital Humanities.  Please let your colleagues know about us and contact us by leaving a comment below if you would be willing to get involved.


* – including ontologies such as Open Annotation: http://www.openannotation.org/
** – such as Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums: http://lodlam.net and the Open Knowledge Foundation: http://lists.okfn.org/mailman/listinfo/open-humanities

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