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Sir Tim Talks Up Linked Open Data Movement

NEW YORK -- Data isn't worth much until it's free -- freed from the silo it's locked up in, and used in a mashup that creates valuable new resources for you and others. Freeing data is also behind a fast-growing movement around Linked Open Data - or what many call Web 3.0 for short, said the founder of the World Wide Web.

During a keynote address at the Linked Data Planet conference here, Sir Tim Berners-Lee stumped for the next vision of the Web – dubbed Web 3.0 -- and the linked open data movement that is behind the forming Semantic Web.

"Linked open data is a movement," he said. "It's a movement that has taken off internationally; it's a grass roots movement, and it's about information that is free to use in the Linked Data format."

This doesn't mean all data should and will be free -- you decide what's open and in the public realm and what stays behind a firewall, he stressed. But the decision not to trade data should be because you don't want to, and not because your data just doesn't understand the other party's. That's the fundamental part of the Linked Open Data movement he discussed with attendees at the conference, which was sponsored by Jupitermedia, the parent company of this site.

Web 3.0, Semantic Web - even Linked Data, is "about simple ideas that make the Web work and using them for data. But it's about getting one format across applications so the Semantic Web standards enable me looking at my bank statement. Now I can drop that into my calendar and do something with it," he added.

The Web as it is currently architected can't do that now. "We all want to do stuff with data. Let's get it on the Web and do stuff with it, and have one standard for doing that. Linked data is a very simple set of rules of putting [this data] on the Web," he continued.

The Semantic Web in action

If you're selling printers, for example, customers should be able to look up the Uniform Resource Identifier URI and pull up data about that printer. But that's just a small part of the Semantic Web.

Back when the Web first came into wide use, people were amazed that they could just go to a store online, he noted. With Web 3.0, the shopping can be done for you, based on specific parameters you assign your data, as well as boundaries with how it can be used, and by who.

So as you work on getting data tagged, and when working with Semantic Web Ontologies , deploy open standards and hew to the existing best practices when creating ontologies, he added.

He urged attendees to look over their data, take inventory of it, and decide on which of the things you'd most likely get some use out of re-using it on the Web. Decide priorities, and benefits of that data reuse, and look for existing ontologies on the Web on how to use it, he continued, referring to the term that describes a common lexicon for describing and tagging data.

More than anything, don't change the way you've worked with the data, and work on hewing to open standards. After all, "If you're not going to give your data to me, let it be because you decided to, not because you can't."