The Web Is Our Database

Recently I’ve been playing around with a linked data application called Callimachus.* So far I’ve successfully installed the program on my DigitalOcean server and hope to be able to report positively about developments in the weeks ahead.

Part of the playing around process included watching some of the video tutorials that Callimachus sponsor 3 Round Stones have made available. Along the way I found an interesting unrelated introduction to linked data by David Wood, the CTO at 3 Round Stones called Linked Data: Structured Data on the Web. But it was the sub-title that really caught my eye: The Jargon Free Version.

So I watched it and, you know, it’s pretty a good introduction. It’s short, relatively jargon free (though not entirely as promised) and highlights some of the important problems that we are facing when it comes to data and the Web.

One thing he said provided me with a certain degree of comfort: “We don’t need to understand all the data or all the schemas in the world before we can do something useful, we just need to understand the data that we care about in context.” A great point. There’s a huge learning curve here but that shouldn’t stop us from doing something useful.

He provides a nice summary of problems that linked data is poised to address:

  • How can we archive our data in an open manner?
  • How can we record data context?
  • How can we record data provenance?
  • How can we know whether our data is up to date?
  • How can we share our data with others?

Here’s hoping Callimachus will help me solve some of these problems and help me do something useful!

* “Callimachus’ was a noted poet, critic and scholar at the Library of Alexandria. His most famous prose work is the Pinakes (Lists), a bibliographical survey of authors of the works held in the Library of Alexandria. The Pinakes was one of the first known documents that lists, identifies, and categorizes a library’s holdings. By consulting the Pinakes, a library patron could find out if the library contained a work by a particular author, how it was categorized, and where it might be found. It is important to note that Callimachus did not seem to have any models for his pinakes, and invented this system on his own.”– from Wikipedia

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