News linked data summit

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On Friday we co-hosted a news linked data summit, along with the BBC (and with some help from the Guardian).

The purpose of the day was to talk about linked data –what a linked data future might look like, what role linked data had for news organizations, and what news organizations should do about it. I’ll note down what I can remember from it in this blog, though given I was probably the least technical person there any tech references come with a big caveat (and I’d welcome being corrected on them).

The day was particularly opportune given that on Thursday Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Professor Nigel Shadbolt had launched data.gov.uk – a new site that provides a route into ‘a wealth of government data’.

Nigel Shadbolt was also at the news linked data summit, giving his vision of what a linked data future might look like – including examples of a ‘post code newspaper’, a mash-up of cycle route blackspots, and a clever illustration of how our income tax gets spent.

Martin Belam, of the Guardian and currybet.net, talked about the value of linked data to news organizations (which you can read on the Guardian blog here), and Richard Wallis, of Talis, gave an overview of where news organizations are now in terms of linked data and metadata standards (see Richard’s presentation here).

Those at the day included us (the Media Standards Trust), and people from the BBC, the Guardian, the Times, News International, the Telegraph, the Associated Press, Thomson Reuters, the Press Association, the New York Times, the FT, the Mail, the Newspaper Licensing Association (NLA), and the Association of Online Publishers (AOP).

The upshot was: everyone agreed that linked data could, potentially, be pretty exciting. It could enable much better and broader linking, it could help people discover the provenance of data, it could enable news to evolve much more dynamically than it does now, it could even do good things for SEO (though that’s a master art I won’t even try to figure out).

There was general agreement that the “One Ring To Rule Them All” approach doesn’t generally work on the web. In other words, you’ll never 100% agreement between organisations on which things are actually events or concepts, so the best you can do is to try and provide some mapping where sensible.

Therefore there would, inevitably, be multiple vocabularies and multiple places to link. Although one could imagine some sources being ‘canonical’, i.e. they become the default reference for most linked data. A good example of this would be the names of UK schools. One could imagine, for example, their being a list of these at the department of education website which would act as a sort of central repository.

There was also agreement that it would be a good thing if people started dipping their toe in the water. No-one is going to know how valuable – or not – linked data is without giving it a try.

For some of the news organizations the forthcoming general election seemed like a good place to start. There could be a lot of public value in linking, for example, parliamentary candidates.

If you want to know more about the day, or keep in touch with the progress of linked data and news, you can contact me at martin DOT moore AT mediastandardstrust DOT org.

Written by Martin Moore

January 25th, 2010 at 11:44 am

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