Linked Open Data sounds very much like a gigantic relational database with business intelligence added. A relational database has many tables, containing specific information (raw data). Those tables can be queried and information pulled from them based on a common field.
Example: Someone has a driver’s license. They are entered into the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) database that includes the driver’s name, address, license number, etc. That’s one table. Now, every time the driver has a driving infraction that information goes into a table – driver’s license and infraction. That’s the second table. At any time, a DMV staff member (with permissions) can find the name and address of any driver – and their entire driving record. When raw data is made openly available, well now almost anyone can do the same thing. Take a look at the DMV Database site to see what I mean.
Is there a dark side to Linked Open Data? You bet there is. (Yes, that guy.)
When we give our data to our school, our doctor’s office, or the government – we do so with the expectation that the information will be kept private. Linked Open Data would make raw data available (supposedly with personal details stripped out). But the questions we need to ask are:
- Who decides who gets to see our raw data?
- Will Linked Open Data be something that is accessible largely to commercial vendors so that they can do even more targeted marketing? (Think of Credit Bureaus buying and selling credit information.)
- When will hackers begin their work of hacking into records, altering records, and so on. (Notice not “will they” – rather “when will they” and what are the safeguards.)