Putting Linked Datasets to Work

Loraine Lawson

When I first heard about Linked Data, it sounded like something with great potential, not just for integration, but for new discoveries in science and health care.


Perhaps you've heard of Linked Data, but aren't sure how it works. Basically, you use URIs for naming the data, and use HTTP URIs so that people can look up those names - just like we now search and find Web addresses. Ideally, you'll also provide links to other data URIs to aid users in discovering more related data - again, just like the Web.

This would also make data just as searchable as Web pages. Hence, it's a critical part of the web of data envisioned in the "Semantic Web."


Cool, right? You could just imagine all the excellent uses. So you can imagine my chagrin when I stumbled across this Linked Data article on Ad.ly, a celebrity microendorsement platform for Twitter. That means it uses Linked Data to match minor celebrities with products for sponsored Tweets.


I have to say, that's not quite what I'd hoped for. But despite my disappointment, this two-part series actually does a good job of showing how Linked Data can create new market opportunities. It turns out Ad.ly is only 18 months old, but already has attracted 150 brands and produced 24,000 tweet endorsements.


The article explains how Chris Testa, director of engineering at Ad.ly, Inc., used Freebase's annotated dataset on celebrities and semantic web concepts to launch the marketing business. Freebase is a participant in the W3C Linked Data project.


More importantly, Testa shares his five-step process for integrating Linked Data, so you, too, can take advantage of this concept. In brief, those five key steps are:

  1. Understand what your "things" are - in other words what entities are you going to target.
  2. Choose a Linked Dataset - he offers several examples of data sets you can find.
  3. Reconcile your things - in which he means matching the entity easier to the data you're pulling in.
  4. Build business intelligence - as Bugs Bunny would say, that step's a doozy.
  5. Feedback and Maintenance - this involves feeding information back to the Linked Data community as well as maintaining your own system.


The article offers further tips about each of these steps; however, I recommend you watch the video, in which Testa discusses each step and often provides a demo.


Hopefully, you'll find a less-banal use than helping Kim Kardashian earn $10,000 a tweet.

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