People in Linked Open Data

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People matter and representing “people” in data and turning that into linked open data is no small feat.

Some simple examples: historical figures or people in the public sphere; creator’s of scholarly works, artworks, music; collaborators, contributors, or partners in the creation process or participants an activity or event; and characters in play or personas.  There are many in the LODLAM community working with data about people and either using or keen to use persistent identifiers (their own and others) to aid with enriching their datasets for greater discovery and interoperation.

Concert in St. Mark's Place, Venice, Italy (Detroit Publishing Company, 1905) | Library of Congress

Concert in St. Mark’s Place, Venice, Italy (Detroit Publishing Company, 1905) | Library of Congress

With this in mind, the program committee for the 2017 Summit have been in touch with key practitioners and leaders in the LODLAM community to test out an interest in having a post Summit meeting on the use person identifiers and data about people.

The rationale behind this outreach has been to understand if the community has an interest in and is ready for a wide ranging discussion on the capture and use of people data including persistent identifiers as part of their linked open data practices, and, critically, to work more concertedly as a community of practice.

For example, whether the community are ready to work together internationally to:

  • Collate the different approaches to capturing and sharing data about people and the use and linking of local and persistent identifiers
  • Establish a shared public resource for these different practices to boost capacity to undertake linked open data initiatives that involve data about people
  • Establish a working group to optimise capacity for international interoperation around data about people and best practices in diverse contexts

The feedback to date has been strong and positive from those we have been in touch with.  The program committee are confident in proposing session at the summit to discuss the use of data about people and persistent identifiers, so we as a community can explore how practices differ and where we might like to work together. With this is mind (and with the generous support of the Cini Foundation) an extra half day has been added for a satellite meeting for 15 summit delegates (the day after the LODLAM summit) should options for further planning around international interoperation arise from the community discussion at the summit.

Election Night Crowd, Wellington, 1931 | National Library of New Zealand

Election Night Crowd, Wellington, 1931 | National Library of New Zealand

The LODLAM community are a wonderful mix of representatives working in cultural institutions, universities, in public and community services, and commercial organisations, with a range of viewpoints and goals.

Working together around data about people is an ambitious and important move.

But it seems apt that this kind of humanities initiative comes from a community that is passionate about making societal knowledge, culture, and history discoverable, shareable, reusable, and contestable.

It will be up to the delegates from the LODLAM community attending the Summit to determine whether the 2017 LODLAM Summit in Venice is the event that kicks off a community of practice around capturing and sharing data about people and an international working group to advance that goal, with the community support as a driving force behind that.

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