C-1.4 Linked Data Model

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In this model there is no central aggregator and no common metadata schema defined. Each of the content owners provides their metadata in linked data format with a search interface. This is not yet widely used, but at least one museum is piloting the use of linked data internally to create connections between artefacts.
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Figure C4: Linked Data Model
Figure C4: Linked Data Model
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The main advantages and disadvantages of this approach are summarised in the following table.
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Advantages Disadvantages
  • Metadata is always up to date, as the queries are real-time into the source metadata set.
  • Collection owners only need to make schema and metadata available once in RDF format, the search service will request the information as-needed.
  • Availability of schema and metadata enables cross-collection services to access all metadata and not just standardised schema.
  • Links can be made more easily across collections if URIs are used, creating potential for ‘aha’ moments of research.
  • Sustainable approach in terms of open systems as there is no bottleneck of common schema, since the ‘sameas’ property can be used.
  • Content management systems can be tweaked to display the same content in different ways (RDFa and XML) so IT departments may be more willing to support it.
  • Users surfing can be unaware that machine-readable information is available to them.
  • Benefits of linked data are less clear as it is an emerging technology.
  • Semantic web is considered by some to have ‘failed already’ so may have a negative connotation.
  • Many underestimate the investment needed in the semantic web, as ‘people forget how hard it is to get metadata at the moment’.
  • Collection owners must be technically capable of providing their metadata in RDF format.
  • Aggregation service still needed to enable users to search multiple collections or SPARQL end-points.
  • The semantic web depends on everything being marked up almost to the same extent, which given the many standards in place today is considered unlikely.
  • Speed of response from multiple SPARQL end points is unknown.
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This is a relatively new technology, but uptake is expected to grow with organisations such as Google, Facebook and Twitter developing semantic elements to their offerings [i]. ResearchSpace [ii] has been involved in researching this with the British Museum, which has used linked data to inform their in-house cataloguing system as well as their website. It is possible to view information about a resource in the British Museum, such as the Rosetta Stone [iii]. Selecting the ‘Conservation’ tab in the metadata record makes the server consult a linked data world and SPARQL end-point linking in the Conservation and Science Knowledge Bases to the catalogue and then display the resultant data in html form.
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One participant said that this would be ‘the most web-friendly approach for those who still worked with card catalogues’, implying that those with paper records may be able to make their metadata digital, open and linked more easily than those who would convert from other forms.
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[i] http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20727715.400-google-twitter-and-facebook-build-the-semantic-web.html (Article from New Scientist online 02/08/10 by Jim Giles, accessed 30/08/10)
[ii] http://sites.google.com/site/rspaceproject/
[iii] British Museum search via http://bit.ly/br567O

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