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A Roundup of Recent Government Info News and New Resources

More news and new resources via INFOdocket.com.

1. White House Launches Ethics.gov

2. USDA: Consumers to Receive Timely Food Safety Alerts Through New State Twitter Feeds

3. A Law Classification Scheme as Linked Data?

4. Access GAO Reports and Legal Decisions via New App for iOS (Free)

5. National Broadband Map Updated, New Data Added

6. United Nations Releases 2012 E-Government Survey (Full Text), Country Rankings Updated

7. Compare Country Statistics With New United Nations CountryStats iOS App (Free)

8. UNESCO Releases World Atlas of Gender Equality in Education (Full Text, Free)

9. New Online Database from NIH: Genetic Testing Registry, Video Tutorials Available

10. Open Data: DOE Data Explorer Now Searches Individual Datasets

11. Archivist of the United States Appoints New Director of Presidential Libraries

This is big: W3C + Libraries + Linked Data

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is the international community organization that develops standards to ensure the long-term growth of the Web. Its Incubator Activity division, which fosters rapid development, has formed a new group on Library Linked Data.

The mission of this group will be “to help increase global interoperability of library data on the Web.”

This will bring together people involved in Semantic Web activities in the library community and beyond.

The Library of Congress and OCLC are among the members of this new group.

  • W3C Library Linked Data Incubator Group.

    The group will explore how existing building blocks of librarianship, such as metadata models, metadata schemas, standards and protocols for building interoperability and library systems and networked environments, encourage libraries to bring their content, and generally re-orient their approaches to data interoperability towards the Web, also reaching to other communities.

    It will also envision these communities as a potential major provider of authoritative datasets (persons, topics…) for the Linked Data Web.

The charter of the new group says:

The changing landscape of librarianship increases their need for visibility and interoperability on the Web. In particular, the ubiquitous growth of digital libraries has led them to broaden their practices, standards and activities. Shared catalogues are going online on the open Web, digitized items collections are being brought together in worldwide initiatives, digital resources like online serials, preprints or web archives are driving the need for re-inventing librarianship.

…A re-orientation in the library perspective on information interoperability is needed, building on existing Web architecture and standards, in order to bring this content to the Web. A lot of structured data is already available within library systems and could be released as Linked Data, using Semantic Web technologies. Cultural heritage institutions could be a major provider of authoritative datasets (persons, topics…) for the Linked Data Web.

The State of Linked Data in 2010

The State of Linked Data in 2010, by Richard MacManus, Read Write Web (March 31, 2010).

… Linked Data is data that has been marked up using Semantic Web technologies such as RDF (Resource Description Framework) or RDFa (a simpler variation). Minus the acronyms, Linked Data is simply structured data.

However one of the reasons the Semantic Web hasn’t yet been widely adopted, at least commercially, is that it’s often difficult or time consuming to mark up data semantically. RDF in particular has a reputation for being painful to code. With that in mind, the past year has been as much about prompting governments and organizations to put their data up on the Web in whatever form they can….

The most high profile usage of Linked Data over the past year has come from two governments: the United States and United Kingdom.

Confused about RDF? Semantic Web? Linked Data? Don’t be. Read this!

Here is an excellent article on these important technologies:

…the idea of machine-readable data can be a hard sell to people who are unfamiliar with the idea. The idea of Linked Data, like the idea of a World Wide Web when it was first introduced, “solves a problem we didn’t know we had,” said Ronald Reck, head of consulting firm Rrecktek.

In other words, many of the benefits offered by the then-nascent Web, such as the ability to share documents, was already offered through other technologies, such as the File Transfer Protocol. Likewise, it is difficult to understand the concept of a single format for Web-based data when plenty of formats such as relational databases and spreadsheets already annotate data in ways that make it reusable by other systems.

…Berners-Lee said that to use an API, a systems administrator or developer must write a program for the data to be accessible. With RDF, a Web browser should be able to reuse the data, requiring no additional work on the part of users.

See also:
13 resources for government Linked Data.

2 examples of how government data linking can work.