Monday, December 06, 2010
Response to JPW
Note: John Price Wilkin of Michigan wrote a post on the Open Knowledge Foundation blog that is very critical of the library linked data movement and the creation of numerous disjoint files of bib data in linked data formats. I admit that it isn't clear to me what he thinks should happen, but it seems to be something like this photo, which I took at the Online 2010 exhibit hall. This is OCLC's booth.
A separate cloud for libraries. Totally the wrong idea.
I must say that I see things quite differently from JPW. Although I agree that a bunch of static bibliographic files do not open library linked data make, my view is:
1) Each file represents a person or group who got interested in transforming library data and went through the learning process of actually doing it. Therefore each file is a contribution to our collective knowledge about linked data. When we add these files to heterogeneous stores like Open Library or Freebase, we exercise that knowledge.
2) These files are the fodder for further experimentation with mixing library data and non-library data, which to me is one of the main points of linked library data. We are in the "training wheels" stage of this change, and like training wheels these early files may end up being discarded when we finally learn to ride. I see no harm in that.
3) This experimentation is taking place primarily outside of the US in places where the OCLC record use policy does not apply. The British Library, the National Library of Sweden, soon the Bibliotheque Nationale, and a handful of German libraries are at the forefront of this. If you cannot release your bibliographic data openly, you cannot participate in the linked data movement.
4) I do think that we will have library systems that make use of a different data format to the one we have today, but those are not the same as linked data, and are definitely not the linked open data that is the main focus of the linked data activity. How we manage our data for ourselves may well be different from how we share it with the world. We do need a well-ordered library data universe where we do our bibliographic work. That should exist in parallel with open sharing that reaches beyond the library cataloging community.