Linked Data: notes from Tim Berners-Lee’s 2009 TED talk video

I started watching Tim Berners-Lee’s TED talk last night. He defines the term linked data to refer to pieces of data placed on the Web and linked to one anaother.  He said there are three rules for putting something on the Web:

  1. http addresses are now being used to reference any unique entity on the Web, people, places, products, events, etc., not just documents
  2. If we request an object identified by an http address, we should get back useful information
  3. The object should include relationship pointers, formatted as http addresses, to other objects, e.g., “this person was born in Berlin, and Berlin is in Germany”.  A person can link to a city, which can link to a region …

Linked data is browsable.  The more data is connected together, the more powerful it is.

Berners-Lee mentioned DBpedia. describes itself as “a community effort to extract structured information from Wikipedia and to make this information available on the Web”.

Diversity on the Web is important.  We can put all kinds of data on the Web, government, university, enterprise, scientific, personal, weather, events, news, etc.  Transparency in government is important, but this data is also beneficial because it describes how life is lived.  It’s actually useful.

But owners of data are tempted to hang on to it.  Hans Rosling calls this”database hugging”.  So, make a beautiful Website, but first make the unadulterated data available.  “Raw data now!”.  A lot of the data concerning that state of the human race is sitting on computers unaccessible by the Web.  Now that scientists are putting genomic data and protein data on the Web as linked data, they can ask questions like “What proteins are involved in signal transduction and are related to pyramidal neurons?” (personal note: this seems a lot like a db query).

Linked social data is only possible if we break down the walls of social networks.

Open Street Map is all about everyone doing their bit.  Linked data is all you doing your bit, everyone else doing theirs, and it all connecting.

“Linked data.  I want you to make it.  I want you to demand it.  I think it’s an idea worth spreading.”

Thanks, Tim!