RDF: Resource Description Failures and Linked Data Letdowns


The topic of the Semantic Web, more recently rebranded as Linked (Open) Data, has been in discussed in digital humanities and related disciplines since its inception. Now, more than a decade later, the technology has had more than enough time to run through the hype curve towards the Plateau of Productivity. But where are we really in that timeline? Some sectors have embraced it, and others are catching up quickly, but significant obstacles to adoption remain.

This presentation looks at the major difference between Linked Data and more traditional document-centric technologies, contrasting the benefits with the difficulties in an effort to provide an explanation as to when it is valuable and when the overheads are currently too high. It is intended as an overview to enable the audience to decide for themselves when Linked Data is appropriate for their use case, and what challenges they may run into along the way. Readers may either watch the slides with the recorded presentation or view the slides independent of that recording.

For those unfamiliar with Linked Data, a selection of introductory material is referenced below.[1] A full understanding of the technology is not necessary to engage with the presentation, but knowing the general background would be advantageous to get the most benefit. URIs for the topics referenced in the presentation are also provided after the pdf if they are not on the slides.

Recorded Presentation


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Slide References


Originally published by Robert Sanderson on May 17, 2013. Introduction for Journal of Digital Humanities November 2013.

  1. [1] Miller, E. “An Introduction to the Resource Description Framework,” D-Lib Magazine, May 1998, http://www.dlib.org/dlib/may98/miller/05miller.html; Berners-Lee, T. “Linked Data,” W3C, July 2006, http://www.w3.org/DesignIssues/LinkedData.html; “Introducing Linked Data and the Semantic Web,” http://www.linkeddatatools.com/semantic-web-basics; Manola, F. Miller, E. “RDF Primer,” W3C, February 2004, http://www.w3.org/TR/rdf-primer/.

About Robert Sanderson

Dr Robert Sanderson is an information scientist in the Research Library at Los Alamos National Laboratory and previously a Lecturer in Computer Science at the University of Liverpool. His research focuses on the areas of scholarly communication, especially with regards to digital humanities and large scale data mining. He was won international awards for his research, including the 2010 Digital Preservation Award and both the Vannevar Bush Best Paper award at JCDL2011 and Best Poster Award at JCDL2012. Between 2009 and 2011, he was the UIUC GSLIS Honorary Research Fellow for his interdisciplinary work in digital humanities. Dr Sanderson has been co-PI for national level projects, such as the Open Annotation Collaboration in the US and FORESITE in the UK, and named Investigator on multiple EU funded projects in the FP7 and eContentPlus streams. He is an editor of several international specifications including, most recently, the W3C Open Annotation Community Draft, IETF Memento Internet Draft, and NISO Resource Synchronization. He also has close ties with the very large scale digital library community, including working with the San Diego Supercomputer Center, UC Berkeley, Stanford, Europeana and DPLA, as well as being a founding member of the UK's National Center for Text Mining.