Is Your Data 5 Star?

Many start with a large spreadsheet, or database, that they have never published to anyone before and are unsurprisingly a little concerned when confronted with feverous cries to publish everything as Linked Open Data – Now!

Relax – make yourself a mug of your favourite hot beverage and approach this rationally.

There have been many presentations, posts, and the like about taking things from Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s now famous ‘raw data now’ chant in his TED talk, to your data becoming a fully fledged member of the Linked Open Data Cloud .   I produced a blog post on this a while back entitled The Data Publishing Three-Step as a help to those considering taking this data journey.  Because that’s what it is, a journey.  A series of stages to go through as you address different aspects of the data open publishing process – each stage building on the previous in an achievable way.

5 star mug Whilst you are contemplating what might be the outcome of those stages, you would do no better than to be sipping your [by now probably only warm] beverage from a 5 Star data mug!  Emblazoned on its side are the 5 star ratings for Linked Open Data:

  1. * On the web, open licensed – get your data out there, in any form, for others to use under an open license, such as the Open Government License for Public Sector Information– clear and unambiguous.  For many, this is one of the significant steps, because it often includes the convincing of others that this might be a good idea.
  2. ** Machine-readable data  – make the data you have just published readable by software.  If it was a spreadsheet that you previously published as a nicely formatted pdf – make the Excel file available in addition.
  3. *** Non-proprietary format – publish a csv file as well, then it can be used in software and applications different from those Microsoft ones.
  4. ****RDF standards – start using URIs as identifiers – and publishing in RDF format.  This step is another that needs a bit more thought as to how you are going to describe your data
  5. *****Linked RDF – link, or use, identifiers in your data to identifiers published out on the wider web of data.  If you are using a UK post code – for example why not use the Ordnance Survey URI for it (http://data.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/id/postcodeunit/WR112RE)

Many of these steps could be taken in one go – you could go directly to 3* data in many cases.  Some of the steps could be taken by others on your behalf – converting your 3* data and republishing it as 5*.  There are many variations and options we come across when working with organisations to help them to confidently enter the world of Linked Data.

This post was also published on the Talis Platform Consulting Blog
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