5 “stars” to linked open data

This content is 11 years old. I don't routinely update old blog posts as they are only intended to represent a view at a particular point in time. Please be warned that the information here may be out of date.

Every now and again I have a peek into the world of linked and open data. It’s something that generates a lot of excitement for me in that the possibilities are enormous but, as a non-developer and someone whose career has tended to circle around infrastructure architecture rather than application or information architectures, it’s not something I get to do much work with (although I did co-author a paper earlier this year looking at linked data in the context of big data).

Earlier this year (or possibly last), I was at a British Computer Society (BCS) event that aimed to explain linked data to executives, with promises of building a business case. At that event Antonio Acuna, Head of Data at data.gov.uk presented a great overview of linked and open data*. Although I did try, I was unable to get a copy of Antonio’s slides (oh, the irony!) but one of them sprung to mind when I saw a tweet from Dierdre Lee (@deirdrelee) earlier today:

Star rating of #opendata can be improved sequentially. Describe metadata using #RDF even if content isn't yet #dcat #LinkedData #datadrive
Deirdre Lee

The star rating that Dierdre is referring to is Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s 5 star model for linked open data. Sir Tim’s post has a lot more detail but, put simply, the star ratings are as follows:

No star web data Available on the web (whatever format) without an open license
One star open web data Available on the web (whatever format) but with an open licence, to be Open Data
Two star open web data Available as machine-readable structured data (e.g. excel instead of image scan of a table)
Three star open web data As for 2 stars, but in a non-proprietary format (e.g. CSV instead of Excel)
Four star open web data All the above plus, use open standards from W3C (RDF and SPARQL) to identify things, so that “people can point at your stuff”
Five star open web data All the above, plus: link your data to other people’s data to provide context

It all sounds remarkable elegant – and is certainly a step-by-step approach that can be followed to opening up and linking data, without trying to “do everything in one go”.

*Linked and open data are not the same but they are closely related. In the context of this post we can say that open data is concerned with publishing data sets (with an open license) and linked data is concerned with creating links between data sets (open or otherwise) to form a semantic web.

Attribution: The data badges used on this post are from Ireland’s Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI), licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.


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