The Interface Between the Worlds of Cloud Computing and the Semantic Web

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Examining the Linked Data opportunity; the case of Higher Education

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Regardless of where you stand on some of the questions of detail with respect to the Linked Data meme, it’s clear that significant enthusiasm is being marshalled behind both the concept and the opportunities that it promises.

Dion Hinchcliffe looks at some of the means by which enterprise data can be more visible on (and useful to) the Web in a ZDNet post this week. The ‘Semantic Web & Linked Data’ are included, and Dion writes;

“By far the most sophisticated and complex of the three approaches to open data presented here, [Linked Data is] highly suitable for certain applications that have rich data sets that need powerful means of processing and consumption. In particular, scientific, technical, medical, mapping, and certain government domains are highly suitable for this approach. It remains unclear if Linked Data will finally trigger the boom in the Semantic Web so use with care. However, definite consideration should be applied, given the potential of the approach to create data sets with extraordinarily high function. Businesses already managing their data with Semantic Web technologies will be the most likely candidates for adoption.”

We’re certainly seeing plenty of talk — and some interesting beginnings — in the Government domain, and organisations such as Thomson Reuters and the BBC are also taking compelling steps around the periphery of their core businesses.

Education offers another interesting set of opportunities, and Jason Ohler’s piece in Educause Quarterly (and a related podcast I recorded with him whilst I was still at Talis) illustrates one view of that opportunity.

Here in the UK, the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) is beginning to take note. They first funded a review of ‘Semantic Web Technologies‘ back in 2005, then revisited the topic with ‘Semantic Technologies in Learning and Teaching‘ (and a related workshop in the south of France later this year). I’ll be recording a podcast with the manager of that project, Thanassis Tiropanis, later this month.

JISC have also asked me to conduct a short piece of work to look specifically at the opportunity presented to the Higher Education community by Linked Data, and this work will run over the next few months. I’m certainly keen to learn about concrete examples, and to hear reasoned arguments for and against in order to submit comprehensive findings and recommendations. So if you have something to say, please do get in touch.

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Paul Miller works at the interface between the worlds of Cloud Computing and the Semantic Web, providing the insights that enable you to exploit the next wave as we approach the World Wide Database.

He blogs at www.cloudofdata.com.