The growth of Linked Data has been rapid, and early adopters such as the BBC and Thomson Reuters are convinced of the benefits they are seeing. As the scope and scale of these mission-critical applications begin to outstrip the research prototypes that make up much of the core Linked Data community, additional issues such as scalability, provenance, rights and trust become increasingly important. Progress is being made in each area, with commercialisation of increasingly scalable RDF databases, ongoing development of more nuanced data licenses, and active research into the practical implications of ‘trust’ and ‘provenance’ in a richly inter-connected network of resources. These are not problems for JISC – or UK Higher Education – to solve alone, but there is a wealth of expertise in the UK that should continue to participate in these wider international activities.
The recommendations, below, specifically address a number of areas in which UK Higher Education can take action and realise the benefits of doing so. Many of these recommendations are necessarily addressed to JISC and the Higher Education community as a whole, as they are concerned with validating the shared understanding and methodologies that will enable subsequent advances within individual institutions. A growing number of tools already exist to support creation, maintenance and use of this data, but many lack the polish that would be expected before they might usefully be placed before large numbers of non-expert users. By targeting finite resources to specific areas such as those identified below, it is intended to nurture adoption of Linked Data solutions within Higher Education; adoption that will then stimulate the development of end-user tools and applications from both within the community and beyond.
The recommendations fall into two broad categories; those that work behind the scenes laying the groundwork for exposing useful data (broadly addressing Berners-Lee’s first two rules), and those that identify and publish real data sets onto the Web for use and re-use by all.