Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Linked Data and the World Cup

In January of 2010, I attended the News Linked Data Summit. This was a collection of several organizations involved in news production and distribution, looking to see if there was a way to collaborate on moving forward the Semantic Web (and particularly Linked Data) for news. It was a very interesting discussion, lead mainly by the BBC and The Guardian. At the end of the day, the group decided to move forward together by producing Linked Data for the UK Election. (In January, the election was clearly going to happen in the near future, but not yet announced - it wound up happening in May 2010).

I had a counter proposal for a Linked Data experiment - the World Cup. This made more sense for my employer and seemed to be of interest to at least some others. It was not to be, however. (I later spoke to some folks about whatever happened with the UK Election Linked Data experiment. As far as I can tell, the Guardian did produce some election data. But it isn't clear to me that this turned into anything bigger).

By Shine 2010

However, it turns out that the BBC did use the Semantic Web to power their World Cup “microsite” (actually their World Cup site has more pages than the non-SemWeb Sports section). In "The World Cup and a call to action Around Linked Data", BBC Architect John O'Donovan gives an overview of how they used fine-grained metadata to be able to produce their site with far less need for editorial curation of individual pages. In an accompanying piece, Jem Rayfield describes the technical details of the "dynamic semantic publishing".

Although their descriptions are couched in the terms of the Semantic Web, much of what they describe is more to do with the application of fine-grained metadata than with the particular data formats they use. They do describe how they make use of certain Semantic Web technologies - such as an RDF Triplesore / SPARQL system - to apply derived properties. And it is almost certainly the case that the use of the RDF model has given them more flexibility than can be the case when you use RDBMS systems - or even XML-based schema. However, fundamentally, what they are describing is the potential for what could be done via the application of metadata to content. It is interesting to see it in action.

The England Team didn't do so well at the World Cup - thanks Doug88888!

It is also interesting how much of a revelation this is to people. (The first article was widely distributed via Twitter. And the comments are quite breathless in their admiration).

Hopefully, the work that the IPTC is doing on Linked Data and the Semantic Web will help other news organizations (including the AP!) unlock some of the great metadata work that is going on behind the scenes...