Kristen Milhollin recently opined that nonprofits should take greater interest in linked data and the semantic web. She lists a number of ways that both technologies can and are helping civic pursuits: “(1) Together with the Open Government Partnership, linked data is helping increase transparency and inform civic engagement with governments all over the world. (2) Facebook’s open graph is one big semantic application that maps relationships between you, your friends, and content you like on the internet. (3) In the UK, linked data in health care will now allow health care professionals unparalleled access to  ‘information about the journeys of patients through the care system and the outcomes of different treatments.’” The list goes on.

Milhollin comments, “Just being aware of the possibilities linked data present is enough to inspire your organization to think of ways to use it.  The first question to ask is, does your organization collect and publish data?  If the answer to this question is yes, then finding a way to present your data on the internet as linked data is a good start.  The next question to ask is, could your organization use open, linked data somehow within your publishing platform?  If the answer is yes, there are a lot of ways to incorporate open, linked data into different Content Management Systems (CMS).”

She continues, “If you are a large health, media, or research institution, you are probably already investing in semantic applications and consultants (and if not you should be considering it). If you don’t have the need or budget for a team of ontologists, taxonomists, and developers who understand RDF, OWL, SPARQL, and other semantic languages, you might consider stepping into the production and use of linked data.”

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Image: Courtesy Flickr/ Chris P Jobling