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Linked Data: Best Thing to Happen to Semantic Web


As a result of the keynote speech at the MarkLogic World 2012 conference I blogged a short piece for O’Reilly entitled “Linked Data Underpins the value of Big Data” where I aired the view that it was the links within, and externally between, datasets that were the real value in Big Data.

A vast array of publicly available data The vast array of publically available datasets can help you enhance the value of your data.

The increasing interest in Linked Data, and the Semantic Web in general, saw MarkLogic announce, at MarkLogic World 2013, that it was releasing Semantic Web functionality in MarkLogic 7. The 2014 MarkLogic World conference this April will be showcasing how far we are on that path, where we intend to go and how users of MarkLogic are already delivering new applications and services based on these technologies.

An interesting question is; how did we get to this point? By that I mean, how did an apparently niche technology, the Semantic Web, which has been in existence for over 14 years, gain such momentum only relatively recently?

Well, the underlying technologies of the Semantic Web are the foundation for a web of data, designed as a web-scale technology that utilizes the features that have made the existing web of documents a reality. But, for many years the Semantic Web was seen as a technology looking for a solution. Then, in this context, around 2006/7 the term ‘Linked Data’ was coined and the conversation changed from one of technologies to one of finding solutions to problems:

  • I want to link my data with publically available data to enhance its value.
  • I need to make data integration a much less painful process.
  • I’d like to utilize the relationships (links) between data to learn more about them.
  • I have many disparate data sources that I need to link and query in a consistent and federated way.
  • I need my data to be as agile as my software development processes.
  • If I could publish some of my data openly, so others could link to it, I could attract more customers to my products and services.

These are all problems that organizations have struggled with over the years and there are real solutions to these problems within Linked Data and the Semantic Web.  The Resource Description Framework (RDF) is a data model that is able to respond quickly and easily to change – agile by definition. OWL Ontologies define the rules that govern the interpretation of concepts and relationships that make Linked Data integration a reality. The vast array of publically available datasets can help you enhance the value of your data. The Five Stars of Linked Open Data provide the principles and framework for publishing open data.

Since 2007, interest in Linked Data has grown consistently as organizations begin to understand how the Semantic Web technologies can be used to enhance services, enrich products, improve user journeys and streamline internal processes. Join us at MarkLogic World to discover how you can utilize these technologies to solve real-world problems with MarkLogic. (And if you come a day earlier, we are running a free, day-long, instructor-led course on Using MarkLogic Semantics.)

From time to time I will be writing on these pages about the continued evolution of the Semantic Web — and its cohort, Linked Data.

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