International Linked Open Data in Libraries, Archives, and Museums Summit (Report)
By trc on 2011-09-06, 01:31 - Permalink
The International Linked Open Data in Libraries, Archives, and Museums Summit (LOD-LAM) was held in San Francisco on June 2-3, 2011. LOD-LAM was sponsored by the Internet Archive with support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and the US National Endowment of the Humanities (Office of Digital Humanities). Participation was by invitation only; ones would need to apply first in order to attend the meeting. About 100 people participated in the summit, but few of them were from outside of Northern America and Europe. I think there were one Japanese, one Korean, and one Taiwanese. Many organizations are represented at the meeting including the US Library of Congress, British Library, Newberry Library (Library), California Digital Library, Internet Archive (Archives), the Met, Powerhouse, and Smithsonian (Museums), as well as educational institutions (e.g., MIT) and other non-profits (e.g., Creative Commons). A list of the participants is available from the event website.
LOD-LAM utilized an Open Space Technology meeting format. At first the participants collaboratively created the agenda for break-out sessions, then they dispersed into parallel and focused discussions. In the first day, seven rooms were used and each one was used for three 1.5 hours sessions. That was 21 sessions. In the afternoon of the first day, there was a "dort shorts" session where each person could use two minutes to present his/her project. In the second day, the discussions continued in parallel, and the meeting ended in an "closing circle" where each participant said a few words about the meeting and/or the subject matter of LOD-LAM. The following images capture the session schedules and the dort shorts line-up.
Given the many discussions undergoing at the meeting, I can only report on a few in which I participated. Because of my interest in e-publication format and RDFa, I attended the "RDFa and ePUB 3" session. My feeling is that people are not sure about whether embedding RDFa (meta)data in ePUB (hyper)text will be taken up soon by major publishers. It depends on, I think, whether the authoring tools and rendering devices will both support RDFa. (See also this blog post by Eric Hellman.) In the "Users" session, people focus on how to empower users to use and contribute to linked open data (See also this mind-map referred to in Karen Cough's post.) In the "Rights Issues" session, the participants come up with a 4-star classification-scheme for linked open cultural metadata inspired, I think, by the 5-star rating system on linked data by Tim Berners-Lee.
Incidentally, on the first day of LOD-LAM, the big three search engines Bing, Google and Yahoo! announced schema.org, an ontology and microformat aims to better markup web contents for semantics-rich search. Duly on the second day of the meeting, LOD-LAM participants spent some time discussing this new development. People seem to worry about whether they would need to retrofit their existing web contents just to have them better indexed, and served out to users, by the search giants. Interoperability issues between RDFa standards and schema.org practices are of great concerns to many as well. (See also a discussion in the tech community in the following week, also in San Francisco, at the SemTech 2011 BOF on structured data in HTML and vocabularies.)
Many nice projects were showcased at the dort shorts session in the first day. I can only list a few. The US Library of Congress now offers their name authority files for free download in addition to free online access (check this out: Lee, Teng-hui!). The British Library is providing British National Bibliography as (linked) free data services. sta.mn/n3v is a web page for every building in OpenStreetMap. Smithsonian Information hosts 7.4 million records and 570,000 digital objects. The project Linked Open Vocabularies (LOV) looks interesting and useful to me.
LOD-LAM offered a rare forum for experts from leading libraries, archives, and museums to exchange experience and viewpoint about using linking open data practices for sharing and reusing cultural data online. The meeting has provided an excellent venue for people to learn from one other and, jointly, to push forward the state-of-the-art. I feel that the LOD practices in the LAM arena are progressing very quickly. For some LAM organizations, LOD clearly is here and now. For others, there remain technology and institution barriers to opening up their datasets. It may take a while for openness and linkage to become a common practice, but surely everyone is working towards such a practice now.
For others' reports on LOD-LAM, please see the slides from Adrian Stevenson (UKOLN) and the notes by Laura Smart (Caltech Libraries). For a general overview on this subject, see also "How the W3C Has Come To Love Library Linked Data" which is written by Michael Kelley for the Library Journal.
Note: Obligatory trip report, submitted to Academia Sinica in September 2011.