We need tools developers will use!
Part of the dream of the Semantic Web, as well as the goal we are striving towards with semantic interoperability and linked data, is to enable machines to act on our behalf to find and aggregate information. Furthermore, software agents should be able to make decisions based on end user-defined tasks.
End users, i.e. citizens, would be empowered by this. Thanks to the use of both software agent and dynamic user interfaces, they could work in a more flexible, intuitive and intelligent way than they currently do.
In addition, organizations would potentially harvest benefits through the end users’ enhanced production, AI augmented automation and semantically enhanced knowledge graphs.
So how far away is the dream?
We have a solid theoretical foundation for the creation of semantically interconnected, flexible solutions. We have graph databases, vocabularies and APIs to build the environments we want. So why do we not live the Semantic Web dream yet?
Let’s involve the developer community
We don’t because it doesn’t matter that we, the proponents of the Semantic Web and linked data, can see the benefits of RDF and SPARQL. The problem is that there is no one to build the solutions for us.
We need the developer community to play an active role in building standardized semantic interoperability solutions. And developers needs tools that connect the world they are working in with the linked data world we would like.
Starting point: Linked Data Showcase
To initiate more interest and involvement from the developer community, a group of nine EU countries is currently participating in a project around a Linked Data Showcase. The showcase is meant to initiate a cross-border linked data environment and to function as a guide for building linked data architecture including a reference architecture.
It is out of scope for the showcase to produce new tools for the developer community. But it will be in scope of the developer community to use the showcase environment to produce and use tools they see a need for. The showcase is an opportunity for the developer community to experiment with real life data that has a practical use and need user-friendly solutions.
For some of the challenges, there may already exist good solutions. For example GraphQL-LD may be the answer to a developer-friendly and strong query language. Other challenges – like handling new data from previously unknown sources in a dynamic user interface – will require more work.
The Linked Data Showcase will hopefully be a starting point for the developer community and the data using organizations to work together on more pragmatic solutions. Solutions where data can easily be found, connected and used both internally in organizations and between organizations. Solutions where citizens can be empowered with smarter ways to get and use data.
Learn more about the Linked Data Showcase pilot here.