Sunday, February 19, 2012

Linked Data & DEiXTo

As explained in a previous postDEiXTo can scrape the content of digital libraries, archives and multimedia collections lacking an API and enable their metadata transformation (through post-processing and custom Perl code) to Dublin Core and subsequently in OAI-PMH or another suitable form, e.g. Europeana Semantic Elements (ESE).
    Meanwhile, the Web has become a dynamic collaboration platform that allows everyone to meet, read and more importantly write. Thus, it steadily approaches the vision of Tim Berners-Lee (the inventor of the World Wide Web): the Linked Data Web, a place where related data are linked and information is represented in a more structured and easily machine-processable way.
    Linked Data refers to a set of best practices for publishing and connecting structured data on the Web. Its key technologies are URIs (a generic method to identify resources on the Internet), the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) and RDF (a data model and a general method for conceptual description of things in the real world). It is an exciting topic of interest and it's expected to make great progress in the next few years. A video that does a nice job of explaining what Linked Open Data is all about can be found here:
    Over the last decade, the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH) has become the de facto standard for metadata exchange in digital libraries and it's playing an increasingly important role. However, it has two major drawbacks: it does not make its resources accessible via dereferencable URIs and it provides only restricted means of selective access to metadata. Therefore, there is a strong need for efficient tools that would allow metadata repositories to expose their content according to the Linked Data guidelines. This would make digitized items and media objects accessible via HTTP URIs and query able via the SPARQL protocol.
    Dr Haslhofer has performed significant research and work towards this direction. He has developed (among others) the OAI2LOD Server based on the D2R Server implementation and wrote the ESE2EDM converter, a collection of ruby scripts that can convert given XML-based ESE source files into the RDF-based Europeana Data Model (EDM). These remarkable tools could turn out very useful for making large volumes of information Linked-Data ready, with all the advantages this brings.
    Linked Open Data can change the computer world as we know it. So, there is a lot of potential in combining DEiXTo with Linked Data technologies. Their blend could eventually produce an innovative and useful outcome. Many already believe that Linked Data is the next big thing. Time will tell. Meanwhile, DEiXTo could definitely help you generate structured data in a variety of formats from unstructured HTML pages, either your ultimate goal is Linked Data or not.

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