Even though #ALA12 officially began with the Opening General Session at 4 this afternoon, I arrived late last night in order to attend a pre-conference session about Linked Data. Being an all-day session, it was jam-packed with great presenters, attenders, and information. The Twitter hash tag was #ala2012_ldpre and many of us tweeted during it, so definitely check it out if you’re interested in seeing how the day progressed.
The format helped keep the momentum going for the entire day: a key note, lightning talks, small group discussions, and reporting back to the whole group. Though the session focused on Linked Data, a whole range of aspects and depths were discussed. From theory to how to get started, global implications to SPARQL queries.
The presenters represented vendors, libraries, and even LC. Each honed in on a different part of the Linked Data topic and yet the talks fit together well because it built a larger tapestry of the topic and issues surrounding it. The fun part was hearing and seeing examples of how LD could advance libraries but also the web more generally. Yet there are many problems and concerns that get in the way, mainly time and money. However, as the keynote speaker Eric Miller pointed out, catalogers and libraries are particularly well poised to lead the way to make use of LD and have been doing so for 40 years with MARC already: think controlled subject headings and names. All controlled fields and the accompanying authority files are Linked Data.
My brain still buzzes with all the new information and ideas and hope for the future. Cataloging is changing quite rapidly with FRBR and RDA, and now Linked Data. Yet it isn’t changing, really. The theory and the purpose are the same but now technologies are advancing to allow us to create things that were never possible before. For some it’s a scary unknown but it could bring libraries back into the conversation more if we helped create and guide standards that would organize and maintain data on the web as well as in libraries.
Several people at this session today called for action. Not just holding meetings and being aware of what’s going on with Linked Data but actually creating and doing something to test and set up projects to find out what best works and begin stepping into the future today. How apt a statement with Disneyland across from my hotel. 🙂 But, as was reiterated as the day’s session wound down, there is no magic involved–it’s all hard work by smart and dedicated people working together to build off each other to make some. So let’s create Linked Data and help build better libraries and a better world with excellent data! Who’s with me?