Raw Data Now Dot Com

Last summer I registered the domain name rawdatanow.com. I was at Linked Data Planet in New York, listening to TimBL give his keynote, and was struck by his rallying cry for RAW DATA NOW!! The idea made perfect sense: concentrate on getting your data out (soundtrack by danja), and worry about the shiny interface later; or better still, by publishing the data according to Web standards and Linked Data principles you empower others to create the shiny interfaces that are meaningful and useful to them.

According to TimBL’s slides from TED the meme comes from this post from Rufus Pollock, but the clarity of the call was new to me (update: according to delicious I bookmarked Rufus’s post on 14th Nov 2007; obviously wasn’t paying attention properly) and it encouraged me to start the Linked Data Shopping List (which could do with some more attention). I also had in mind a grassroots campaign to promote the idea (full page ads in national newspapers signed by as many people as we could get, that sort of thing), which is why I bought the domain name. But it’s been a busy year, and between the ongoing efforts to sustain and increase the momentum of the Linked Data movement, and trying to get VoCamp off the ground, I’ve had no spare time to devote to more community activities.

So, here’s my offer to the community: if you have a compelling story to tell about how we can get encourage huge numbers of organisations and individuals to provide RAW DATA NOW, and being able to use rawdatanow.com would help with that, please let me know by blog comment, email (firstname.surname@gmail.com) or identi.ca.

Update (2009-03-13): the domain http://rawdatanow.com/ now points to TimBL’s talk from TED2009, but the offer still stands.

12 Responses to “Raw Data Now Dot Com”


  1. John Goodwin

    Hi Tom,

    I’m tired today, and not sure I understand what you are after. Are you after ways to encourage people/organisations to start producing lots of RDF? As far as individuals go I personally think we need a bit more infrastructue before they’ll start seeing the point in making RDF – oh and some nice easy tools would help. Sure geeks like us will happily make RDF – but at the end of the day most people won’t know what to do with it.

    I think organisations will start doing it once they see other organisations putting linked data out there. We (as in Ordnance Survey – my day job) are starting…as are the BBC. Hopefully once (say) the BBC and OS are linked up, and a simple application shows what you can do we’ll see great uptake?

    Our efforts (work) started here:

    http://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/oswebsite/ontology/AdministrativeGeography/v2.0/AdministrativeGeography.rdf

    http://os.rkbexplorer.com/

    I even had a go at home (not an OS product):

    http://www.johngoodwin.me.uk/pubs/pubindex.html

    So maybe a nice interface to some linked data that shows some cool easy queries that would have been hard to do previously in a google/yahoo/whatever way?

    Again sorry if this is garbled…need sleep :)

    John

  2. Subbu Allamaraju

    I am not sure what the goal is. What is the motivation for services to expose raw data? Of course, there are interesting services that benefit from exposing their data.

    Secondly, IMO, if this post motivated by sem web or REST, exposing raw data may be the wrong thing to do. What applications need to expose is application state. Exposing raw data is a leaky abstraction.

  3. Tom Heath

    Hi John,

    Hmm, not exactly what I’m after… Right now I’m not so interested in precise ways of encouraging organisations to publish RDF – I think that ball is rolling well, as evidenced by e.g. what’s going on at the BBC. Things are also looking very promising in the US.

    The offer was more about making the domain available to some person or group with a compelling proposal for a raw data now themed campaign aimed at goverment, public institutions and corporations. I want to see this happen, but I don’t want to do it myself :) I’m also less interested in the details, more in the outcomes :)

    Does that make any more sense?

    Tom.

  4. Tom Heath

    Hi Subbu,

    The motivation is many-fold, but the two most compelling arguments in my view are 1) the moral argument: public-funded organisations have a duty to make available data that has been created through tax-funded activities; 2) the cost argument: publishing the raw data enables third parties to create compelling interfaces that meet their own needs, rather than the data publisher spending vast amounts on creating visual interfaces that may only meet a small proportion of user needs.

    Cheers,

    Tom.

  5. John Goodwin

    Hi Tom,

    Yes that makes sense :)

    John

  6. Patrick Murray-John

    So I know what I’m doing this weekend. John’s suggestion is great– put up some sample SPARQL queries to get the ball rolling. That’ll help people who don’t know SPARQL use the data faster, which is the point.

    I think semweb folks mostly recognize that we’re bad at user experience. And UX people don’t want to muck around in SPARQL/RDF. That’s a bridge we need to work on, and this offer, with John’s suggestion of sample queries, seems a great start to it.

    The idea to my mind is to help the great UX folks do something visually cool with the cool data the RDF folks are creating. That rocks.

  7. Patrick Murray-John

    I’ve put up a post that snakes around to a story or two that might make good example, though currently fantasy, use cases for what could happen with open data from universities.

  8. Re-mediation Roomy-nation

    RAW DATA NOW!…

  9. şehirler arası evden eve

    Thanks.. The idea to my mind is to help the great UX folks do something visually cool with the cool data the RDF folks are creating. That rocks.

  10. koxp

    I am not sure what the goal is. What is the motivation for services to expose raw data? Of course, there are interesting services that benefit from exposing their data.

  11. Digitalmalay

    Hi Tom, i dont know much about raw data.But i love soundtrack by danja!hehe

  12. Jack.B

    I really think organisations will start doing this once they see other organisations putting linked data out