I wrote this post for Kew’s Digital Adventures blog on 22 November 2010. Click on the link at the bottom to read the full post.
BLOG EXTRACT – On Tuesday 16 November the Royal Society ran a fantastic free public lecture entitled Opening the information floodgates: the technologies and challenges of a web of linked data. Interested in the new opportunities that open data projects can bring to the public sector, and more specifically our work at Kew, Mike (Director of Digital Media at Kew) and I decided to attend and find out more.
The lecture was led by Professor Nigel Shadbolt, Professor of Artificial Intelligence at the University of Southampton. In June 2009 together with Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Nigel was appointed to help transform public access to Government information. A major output of this work has been data.gov.uk – a single point of access for all Government non-personal public data. In May 2010 he was appointed by the Coalition Government to the Public Sector Transparency Board responsible for setting open data standards across the public sector and developing the legal Right to Data.
What is a web of ‘Linked Data’?
It is broadly accepted that we live in an age of superabundant information, and the Internet and World Wide Web have been key agents in this revolution.
Introducing his talk, Nigel Shadbolt said that this deluge of information and data has already led to a range of scientific discoveries and engineering innovations. From characterising the shape and structure of the Web to efficiently searching its billions of items of content.
Following developments in the semantic web and the recent release of large UK public data sets into the public domain, Nigel believes that we are now witnessing the emergence of a new Web – a Web of ‘Linked Data.’ This, Nigel says, offers new opportunities for science, government and business.
On top of the data released via data.gov.uk earlier this year, the new requirement for MPs to publish their expenses online and the Coalition Government’s recent announcement to change the law ensuring that all data released under the Freedom of Information Act is machine readable, provide yet more signs that the reality of open data in the UK is here to stay.