The term Linked Data refers to a set of best practices for publishing structured data on the Web. These principles are:
- Use Uniform Resource Identifiers (URIs) as names for things
- Use HTTP URIs so that people can look up those names.
- When someone looks up a URI, provide useful information.
- Include links to other URIs. so that they can discover more things.
Libraries have been doing linked data work since the first Union Catalogues (printed catalogues that served to link the catalogues of multiple libraries so you could search across them).
The semantic web is built with metadata. The collection of Semantic Web technologies (RDF, OWL, SKOS, SPARQL, etc.) provide an environment where applications can query the data for various purposes. To make this semantic web function it is necessary to have the huge amount of data on the web available in a standard format, reachable and manageable by semantic web tools. These tools need access to data and also to the relationships among data to create a web of data, not just a collection of datasets. This collection of interrelated datasets on the Web can also be referred to as Linked Data.
Linked Open Data
Linked open data is linked data that is released with an open license that allows for reuse. The first LOD projects came out of academic institutions including MIT and LOD work was occurring in most large academic institutions and libraries by the mid 2000s.
Now the most obvious examples of LOD are Wikidata and DBPedia which are the structured open data for Wikipedia that are available for use. There are many other linked open data projects and groups that are making linked data available for use.
How to Benefit From Linked Data
For a small organization the technical work involved in linked data projects may not be the best use of time, but there are ways to be involved and leverage the power of linked data for your content.
The first step to participating is to have accurate and consistent metadata for your own digital content. That will improve how and when your content is presented to internet searchers. From there, you can contribute your metadata to larger data repositories, both open and closed, that are appropriate for your needs, such as IMDb for video content.