Linked Open Data and the “New Humanities”

One of the grails of digital humanities research is being able to demonstrate that new technologies are changing the way we do research and the kinds of knowledge we create. There’s currently lots of excitement about Linked Open Data and the potential that semantic technologies have for humanities research. The #lodlam hashtag has gained significant traction among members of the digital cultural heritage and digital humanities communities through the efforts of advocates such as Jon Voss from Historypin. The number of sites and organizations that are exposing their data in linked formats is growing rapidly. Projects like wikidata, dbpedia, and the use of linked data formats by a number of important open data sites (data.gov etc) are potentially of enormous benefit to historians and other humanities scholars.

Despite the excitement around semantic technologies, it currently feels like the promise of linked data is yet to be realized. This session would consider the promise and potential future of research using linked data. Rather than focussing on the production of data it would be about how linked data is consumed by scholars. I’m interested in discussing the ways in which Linked Open Data is or could begin to be used by scholars to produce new knowledge. As always with THATCamps the conversation will be open ended and related to the concerns of the people in the room, but some questions we might think about:

– What is linked data?
– How is it different from earlier ways of exposing information on the web?
– Is there current research that is being enabled by linked data?
– What kinds of questions that might be fruitfully posed as the semantic web continues to grow?
– With the increasing power of technologies that can make sense of unstructured data are linked standards necessary?

Session Idea: Outcomes of the first OK Festival in Helsinki

The world’s first Open Knowledge Festival was held in Helsinki, Finland from September 17-22. The festival was largely planned by six individuals from the Open Knowledge Foundation and the Finnish Institute in London and the Aalto Media Factory, Forum Virium, EIT ICT Labs, and Otavan Opisto in Helsinki. Planned by a diverse global team, the Open Knowledge Festival was intended to combine the Open Knowledge Foundation’s two annual conferences, the Open Knowledge Conference and the Open Government Data Camp in a week-long celebration. Festival-goers planned 2/3 of the program.

As an example of innovative new conference formats and a forum for important issues surrounding open knowledge, I would like to discuss the significance and outcomes of the OK Festival. Thanks to live streams of all the conference sessions and information on the website, we will be able to discuss the conference without having attended the conference.