The internet has already provided us the means to access information from around the world in different languages. But to date, most of this information is in separate silos, including the resources curated by libraries and other cultural heritage institutions. When we do a Google search, we’re usually presented with a long list of Web documents with overlapping (and sometimes contradictory) content. We’ve become familiar with the worldwide “web of documents”, but not a worldwide “web of data”.
Google’s Knowledge Cards (usually on the right side of a result set) offer a glimpse of linked data’s promise by integrating information mined from billions of Web documents to produce simple and actionable displays about “Things” (or entities) underlying our search requests. We won’t find the library perspective represented much, given that our data is confined to silos in a format not comprehensible to the semantic Web. Let’s imagine how library information and resources could be integrated into these Knowledge Cards, exposing the relationships among works, translations and their creators that libraries have diligently documented over the decades and including the services libraries offer. Using some examples from the 2014 and 2015 International Linked Data Surveys for Implementers conducted by OCLC Research, we can envision a future where our data is linked to a worldwide web of data, bridging the world across both domains and languages.
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