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Building a Semantic Web in Which Our Data Can Participate

Time: Thursday, May 10, 2007 (10:30am-noon)

Location: Coleman

Moderator: Paul Miller (Talis)



This panel session will introduce participants to the increasingly important concept of open data, illustrating a broader set of concerns with real-world examples from broadcasting, scholarly publishing, map making and the library sector. Panelists will use these examples to highlight current restrictions on the effective use and reuse of rich data in powering the Semantic Web, and will offer suggestions as to ways in which attitudes and practice can and must change if we are to realise the potential of the data already held in databases around the world.

Much attention is currently being paid to Open Source software, and to the value it can bring to the development and dissemination of software within a mixed economy comprising traditionally commercial, open source, and hybrid solutions of various forms.

In the academic sector, too, existing models of publication are being challenged by the rise of the Open Access movement. Here, as in the software world, early polarisation is increasingly giving way to a more pragmatic world view in which various models of publication co-exist to meet a set of requirements.

Far less attention has been paid to the manner in which data can be used and reused, with only a few projects such as OpenStreetMap really challenging the traditional models of control over creating and accessing the underlying data upon which so many applications rely. In scholarly publishing, too, there has tended to be an expectation that rights in the data behind a published paper will be controlled, rather than making the data available -- and data produced by the research -- in order that readers might test the author's conclusions for themselves. Now, some funders are beginning to require that both reports of research and data produced by the research be made easily available for re-use, and organisations such as Creative Commons are taking a serious interest in this area with their Science Commons activity.