Wednesday 14 August 2013

Activating Linked Open Data in Libraries, Archives and Museums - I

A Report on LODLAM 2013 --- Part I, Part II

I was sitting in a hotel restaurant near the BAnQ, the National Library and Archives of Quebec, Montreal, Canada, having my third coffee in the early morning on June 19, 2013. The 3rd coffee is unusual for me; normally I would have double espresso instead. This is part for waking me up from a terrible jet lag (a long distance flight from Taipei); and part for my nerve about the LODLAM Summit 2013 I was going to participate in a few minutes.

The nerve feeling was mixed up with some fear and anticipation. The fear was simply because this conference was totally different from my past experiences. It uses the open space technology that has no pre-set program. More than 100 participants from 16 countries created the agenda during the conference (see sessions on day 1 and day 2), even though a few session proposals have been posted before this event. The anticipation was that I could sit here simply because my boss cannot make it in the last minutes. Therefore, I got this great opportunity to join this event; without much time to make proper preparation in advance though. And the choices I made on the site about which sessions I attend would decide what I have learned, participated and contributed to this community.  

@trudatted /One word from everyone to sum up
At the moment of writing, I would say I wish my choices of sessions could be more sound and balancing on topics during those two days. This is the dilemma of decision making for an unconference-type meeting. All results depend on unexpected topics raised by the participants at that moment, as well as quick choices on which sessions/topics to participate in. While the part of this “inconvenient” design for preparation has challenged my capability both mentally and physically (serious time zone problems in my case, and feel pity that I could not make it to many exciting social events as well), the free-style of communication-oriented design and the outcome from participants’ feedback have been proved effectively and successfully. I could not forget what people said in the closing of this event: “more works to do” after the LODLAM 2013 Summit.                

What's more is that my understanding about the Web has been like a big library, and the linked open data resources such as DBpedia and Freebase have played important roles as the Web Library Sources for years. On the other hand, traditional libraries have long preserved and curated massive and quality datasets. The hidden treasure of the library data not only provides opportunities but also offerings a backbone of trust for the Semantic Web. The collaboration of the web and library communities definitely will bring enormous potentials for human knowledge. This event was full of librarians and archivists who have been trained for tackling cross-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary resources. The way they make library data into linked (open) data represents a new step for me: that is, a vision of semantic interoperability is committed by classical metadata players, and a vision that rich meaningful links within research resources are going to be shared, connected, and reused enormously.

This is exciting and stimulating especially for us. We have been working on LOD and semantic web for a few years. Not long ago, we just completed the task of hosting a conference specifically targeting on open data and open information for the open science. Although not in the specific domain of library data, we have come across several research and case studies, such as Cultural Heritage and Digital Library, and the Open Knowledge Environment (OKE). This background makes me feel exciting to have the opportunity to participate in this event which focuses not only on the general types of data curation in gallery, library, archive, and museum (i.e. GLAM or LAM), but also technical interoperability for linked data, as well as legal interoperability for open data.

More interesting is that from the history of LODLAM, we understand that the special character of the LODLAM community is action oriented with passion and responsibility. During two days of the Summit, the passion and the devotion of this community have been beautifully revealed and mixed with the sunshine of Montreal’s spring. It’s really nice to meet Joan Cobb who has long-term relationship with our digital archive programme, and even more positively is to hear that Getty vocabularies are going to be published as LOD.

Furthermore, having some lovely chatting with Silvia Southwick convinces me more about the LODLAM future that various and abundant resources hidden in libraries and archives will be soon reused and reconnected through LOD. Just imagine what kind of reusing and remixing LOD datasets about the culture in Las Vegas will present to us? Digital collections like Showgirls in Las Vegas and in Taiwan certainly will be connected in a surprising way to our eyes through linked open data, I believe.

Even more luckily blessing is to meet a sweet and warm friend, Debra Riley-Huff, from the first opening session. My nerve and tension to this event have been shared and comforted by Debra’s friendship. Debra has also brought me the attention to OpenRefine that the session I did not participate in. Her interview by David Weinberger about the necessity of Library and Web standards working together has been shared here. As a reflecting story of this event, now I would say to Debra that my travelling problem without full energy at Montreal maybe is not a bad thing at all. Some more interrupting events after Montreal make me have more time on wrapping up this LODLAM mission.

More time demands more works to be done. Without these delays, I would not spend more time and more survey on clarifying vocabulariestesting the PUNDIT, and collaborative mapping this event, simply because several other notes have been published, and simply because I have not completed my formal report on the LODLAM 2013. (to be continued in Part II)       

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Activating Linked Open Data in Libraries, Archives and Museums - I by Andrea Wei-Ching Huang is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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