“No Sir, Mayor Daley no longer dines here. He’s dead sir.” The Limits of Linked Data

That line from the Blues Brothers came to mind when I read OCLC to launch linked data pilot with seven leading libraries, which reads in part:

DUBLIN, Ohio, 11 September 2015OCLC is working with seven leading libraries in a pilot program designed to learn more about how linked data will influence library workflows in the future.

The Person Entity Lookup pilot will help library professionals reduce redundant data by linking related sets of person identifiers and authorities. Pilot participants will be able to surface WorldCat Person entities, including 109 million brief descriptions of authors, directors, musicians and others that have been mined from WorldCat, the world’s largest resource of library metadata.

By submitting one of a number of identifiers, such as VIAF, ISNI and LCNAF, the pilot service will respond with a WorldCat Person identifier and mappings to additional identifiers for the same person.

The pilot will begin in September and is expected to last several months. The seven participating libraries include Cornell University, Harvard University, the Library of Congress, the National Library of Medicine, the National Library of Poland, Stanford University and the University of California, Davis.

If you happen to use one of the known identifiers and like Mayor Daley, your subject is one of the 109 million authors, directors, musicians, etc., and you are at one of these seven participants, your in luck!

If your subject is one of the 253 million vehicles on U.S. roads, or one of the 123.4 million people employed full time in the U.S., or one or more of the 73.9 billion credit card transactions in 2012, or one of the 3 billion cellphone calls made every day in the U.S., then linked data and the OCLC pilot project will leave you high and dry. (Feel free to add in subjects of interest to you that aren’t captured by linked data.)

It’s not a bad pilot project but it does serve to highlight the primary weakness of linked data: It doesn’t include any subjects of interest to you.

You want to talk about your employees, your products, your investments, your trades, etc.

That’s understandable. That will drive your ROI from semantic technologies.

OCLC linked data can help you with dead people and some famous ones, but that doesn’t begin to satisfy your needs.

What you need is a semantic technology that puts the fewest constraints on you and at the same time enables to talk about your subjects, using your terms.


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