Final Project Proposal — Diana Rosenthal

Name: Diana Rosenthal
My group’s topic: Linked Open Data
My interest in this topic: My interest in open data was piqued by a course I took over the summer called Institute on Map Collections. Through the class, my professor showed us the interesting work being done by the New York Public Library that encourages the open exchange of information, crowdsourcing, and making data available in multiple formats to foster dissemination. Though the NYPL Map Warper and sites like OpenStreetMap are more specifically about crowdsourcing, the concept of free access really stood out to me. I am interested in the information science aspect behind making raw data available, readable by both people and machines, and useful across multiple platforms.

Resources that may be useful researching this topic:
Berners-Lee, T. (2006). Linked data. Retrieved from

Coyle, K. (2012). Linked data tools: Connecting on the Web. Chicago, IL: ALA TechSource.

Harlow, C. (2014). What is linked data and why do I care? Proceedings from NYC Archives Unconference. New York, NY.

Miller, E., & Swick, R. (2003). An overview of W3C Semantic Web activity. Bulletin of the American Society of Information Science and Technology 29 (April/May), 8–11.

O’Hara, K., & Hall, W. (2011). Semantic Web. In Encyclopedia of Library and Information Sciences, (Third Edition, Published online: 29 August 2011; 4663–4676). New York: Taylor and Francis.

Wilbanks, J. (2006). Another reason for opening access. BMJ: British Medical Journal, 333(7582), 1306–1308.

Individual focus for literature review: Though I am interested in the mechanics behind creating a standardized “web of data” that linked open data strives to achieve, I am more intrigued by the practical applications of achieving access to datasets. For this reason, I would like to examine the concepts of the Semantic Web and linked open data through the lens of a specific project: New York City Open Data. I’m hoping to determine a couple of things by looking closely at how New York City approaches linked open data. First, I’d like to evaluate the city’s general compliance with the standards established by the W3C (and laid out by Tim Berners-Lee in the reference listed above). Next, I’m interested in reviewing the types of datasets the city has made available and those that could hopefully be made public in the future (for example, restaurant inspection grades are currently available, but are there datasets for hospitals?). Third, I would like to look at the applications that have resulted from the availability of this information and evaluate their usefulness. I think the NYC Open Data project was created in an effort by the city government to be transparent, and I’m interested to see if the projects that utilize city data demonstrate openness and access. It could also be fascinating to compare the New York City initiative to the linked open data initiatives of other governments, foreign and domestic. Two questions I still have after my preliminary research are whether or not current linked open data projects do indeed follow the W3C’s Resource Description Framework and whether or not the RDF plan is easy enough to understand for linked data to take off among dedicated non-experts. Thus far, my research has been broad to provide myself with the foundation of information necessary to understanding linked open data. I think the NYC Open Data case study will help narrow my focus and expose me to more specific scholarship.


About Diana Rosenthal Roberson

Scientific publications editor and archivist at the American Museum of Natural History with a Master of Science in Library and Information Science from Pratt Institute. New York City enthusiast.

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