What is Linked Open Data?

Linked Open Data is gaining traction in the information world – but remains a concept difficult to comprehend for non-technical users.  Europeana recently launched an animation to explain what it is and why it’s a good thing, both for users and for data providers.

At EUscreen, we’re avid supporters of this open way of semantically connecting the web:

  • check out our demo page, where you can  Sound and Vision developer Jaap Blom’s timeline visualisation of the EUscreen dataset
  • scroll through our expanded list of relevant sources on Open Cultural Data
  • expand your technical grasp of how Linked Open Data is implemented on our LOD page

Europeana and Linked Open Data

Europeana facilitates developments in Linked Open Data by publishing data for 2.4 million objects for the first time under an open metadata licence – CC0, the Creative Commons’ Public Domain Dedication. The concept of Linked Open Data is attracting Europe’s major national libraries: the Bibliothèque nationale de France recently launched its rich linked data resource, while the national libraries of the UK, Germany and Spain, among many other cultural institutions, have been publishing their metadata under an open licence.

Support for Open Data innovation is at the root of Europeana’s new Data Exchange Agreement, the contract that libraries, museums, and archives agree to when their metadata goes into Europeana. The Data Exchange Agreement has been signed by all the national libraries, by leading national museums such as the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, and by many of the content providers for entire countries, such as Sweden’s National Heritage Board. The new Data Exchange Agreement dedicates the metadata to the Public Domain and comes into effect on 1 July 2012, after which all metadata in Europeana will be available as Open Data.

Europeana is making data openly available to the public and private sectors alike so they can use it to develop of innovative applications for smartphones and tablets and to create new web services and portals. This support for commercial enterprise in the digital sector is central to Europeana’s business strategy. Metadata that is openly available is re-usable by anyone. Linked to external data sources, such as GeoNames, it’s enriched and can also be re-used by its providers as the basis of improved services to users.

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Television Archives Join Linked Open Data Movement

The EUscreen project has recently taken steps to expand the scope of its aim to provide unified access to large integrated digital collections related to European television history. By implementing the Linked Open Data principles and by signing the new Europeana Data Exchange Agreement, the materials that are made accessible through the platform have become more widely searchable, findable, linkable, and thus more connected to the world wide web, its users… and the machines that link them together. Information about EUscreen’s Linked Open Data Pilot can be found at http://lod.euscreen.eu

1. EUscreen opens up to Linked Open Data

On the EUscreen platform, 27 partners (broadcasters, archives and universities) select, curate and provide television materials from their rich vaults that together hold a great part of European audiovisual history. By mapping the schemata that underpin their content descriptions to the EUscreen metadata model, content providers ensure greater visibility and findability of their content in the public realm.
Much work has been done on uniformly processing the different metadata models to one central EBU Core-based model. This model ensures a level of uniformity that surpasses the scattered databases that the different institutions work with. The integrated collections are published on the EUscreen portal and from there on aggregated by Europeana.

With this centralised model in place, it was a relatively straightforward step to implement the Linked Open Data principles, which permit the interpretation and interlinking of the data to various sources outside of the EUscreen domain, and allow for a machine-readable level of access to the content. EBU Core provides mappings to all known audiovisual metadata standards, including the W3C’s Media Annotation ontology. The EBU Core ontology was used to formalise the metadata in the Resource Description Framework (RDF) format and publish them as Linked Open Data.

Johan Oomen, technical director of EUscreen, and Vassilis Tzouvaras, leader of the work package on portal architecture, wrote a paper on the installation of the Linked Open data model: Publishing Europe’s Television Heritage on the Web (PDF). In it, the authors describe how this fits in within the larger technical challenge of creating the different components that make up the EUscreen ingestion workflow. The paper describes the reasoning behind the workflow, the set-up and overview of the process and how these technical developments improve access to our shared television histories to students, teachers and the general audience. You can leave your comments at the end of this article contact us by e-mail for feedback. The authors would like to acknowledge EUscreen consortium partner EBU, specifically mr. Jean-Pierre Evain, for their work in the area of multimedia semantics and Linked Open Data, as their EBU Core Metadata Set has been used to ensure semantic interoperability within EUscreen and beyond.
The Linked Open Data implementation will be presented by Nikolaos Simou (Technical University of Athens, GR) on Thursday, September 29th at the International Workshop on Semantic Digital Archives, which is held in the framework of the International Conference on Theory and Practice of Digital Libraries in Berlin.

Publishing Europe's Television History on the Web from EUscreen

More information about EUscreen’s Linked Open Data Pilot can be found at: http://lod.euscreen.eu

2. EUscreen signs Europeana’s new Data Exchange Agreement

A second, and related, development is EUscreen’s recent signing of Europeana’s new Data Exchange Agreement, which ensures access and enlarged user involvement with the materials published on the platform. The agreement replaces the current Data Provider and Data Aggregator Agreements and governs what Europeana may or may not do with the data of the different aggregators through its web activities.

The Agreement will come into force on January 1, 2012, but EUscreen is proud to be at the forefront and one of the early adopters in this bold step forward for opening European cultural heritage to wide audiences.

From the Europeana office: The Europeana Data Exchange Agreement is the result of a year-long process of consultations with the whole network of content providers and aggregators contributing to Europeana. The results of these consultations and other documentation can be found on the Europeana Towards a New Agreement pages.

The major revision in this new agreement, is that the metadata provided by the Europeana aggregators will now be released under a Creative Commons Universal Public Domain Dedication. This is in line with the recommendations of the New Renaissance Report of the European Commission’s “Comité des Sages” and the promises of the Europeana Strategic Plan 2011-2015. It will revolutionize the sharing and linking of cultural information and place its producing institutions at the heart of discovery on the internet.

CEN Standards for Metadata about Cinematographic Works

Report on the Prague workshop, May 25-27 2011 by Erwin Verbruggen

While Prague was hosting the annual ELAG conference, where librarians gather to talk about linking and upgrading existing data models (“MARC must die!” was among the most popular tweets during the event), the Bohemian city was host to a parallel metadata gathering of film archivists. In the cosy screening room Ponrepo of the Czech National Film Archive, the European Committee for Standardization (CEN)’s standard models for film EN 15907 and its sibling EN 15744 were presented to an international gathering.

The audience consisted of a mix of institutions that care for audio-visual heritage ranging from television, media art and video to film historical collections. Some of them had already been experimenting with the standard in their daily operations (such as EYE Film Institute Netherlands and the British Film Institute). Others were undecided yet as to what model to use or had previously made that decision for themselves.

The model itself can be seen as a variant on the FRBR model, though with a few important differences. It is built up by a top level (the Cinematographic Work), a Variant level for the different versions, a Manifestation level, which separates the different media types and an Item level to describe the particular technicalities. All these different levels have in their turn Agents who influence, instigate or collaborate on them and Events that make them happen.

The group dynamic of the workshop resulted in lively discussions which caused the model’s developer, Detlev Balzer, to invite each and all to point out their needs and clarifications by collaborating on the project’s film standards wiki. The content of the workshop and a great deal of background information can be found on this wiki space.

A separate topic for debate was brought in by Murnau Stiftung’s restorer Anke Wilkeninck’s talk about the film elements of Fritz Lang’s Spione. She rebutted the assumption that when talking about the variants of a film, we need to look for a single Original. As silent pictures could come out in different colour or local versions with drastic differences in both montage and narrative, restorers can find themselves looking at several equivalent versions of a film that has no singular origin. The EN 15907 model is interoperable and thus capable of clarifying the multiplicity of such versions and, linking the different nodes that add up a film production to information bases within or amongst institutions and on the web.

In order to obtain the full reach of this standard’s goals, it wi’ll be key for some pioneering institutions to share their interpretations of the model. One example of how it can be used in a real life database is to be found at the Flemish toolbox for cultural heritage institutions, CEST, which wrote a guideline for its implementation (in Dutch) in the AdLib software. A second example will be highlighted in Paris, during the fourth workshop in this series (June 22-24,) where the BFI will perform a special session about their vision on and upcoming implementation of the standard. The next step is now for standardization bodies (such as the FIAF Cataloguing and Documentation Commission) to define some ground rules for cataloguing and for all interested parties to further evaluate and collaborate on the model.

More information: www.filmstandards.org

Open Culture 2010 Conference: Wikipedia, Google and the GLAMs

Press release by Europeana

Colleagues from Europe’s galleries, libraries, archives and museums – GLAMs – will hear about innovations in their sector from Wikipedia and Google at the annual Europeana conference, Open Culture 2010, in Amsterdam on the 14/15 October.

Peace, Love & Metadata: a cultural collaboration with Wikipedia is the title of Liam Wyatt’s keynote speech on 14 October. Liam was the British Museum’s first Wikipedian in Residence, where he brought curators, content and the Wikipedia crowd together in new ways. The collaboration was a great success and heralds a change in the way that GLAM professionals will engage with their online users.

In the keynote on 15 October, the Engineering Director for Google Books, James Crawford, will talk about the present and future of the project, which has the goal of scanning the world’s books and making the data searchable online. Recent developments include Google’s digitisation agreements signed with Europeana’s host, the National Library of the Netherlands, and with Europeana’s main technology co-ordinator, the National Library of Austria. One result of these agreements is that a further 560,000 digitised historic texts will be made available through Europeana.

The Open Culture 2010 conference will focus on topical issues in the digital heritage sector. Delegates will work in informal discussion groups led by international experts to find practical solutions to questions around:

  • Linked data: What are the applications envisaged for cultural linked data? How should GLAMS position themselves to take advantage of these opportunities? How can Europeana best facilitate this process?
  • User Generated Content: Wikipedia highlights the value of the user’s contribution. How best can GLAMs harness users’ information and expertise? What are the pitfalls and how can they be avoided?
  • Risks and rewards: Opening up data or content for re-use, potentially in a commercial context, can seem a high-risk strategy for GLAMs. Does openness threaten current revenue streams, control over data standards and content, or scholarly standards of provenance and authentication? Against this risk must be set the rewards in terms of their relevance to society, and the benefits that the whole of society can derive from open access to knowledge and creative ideas.

The Europeana conference is a free annual event that is open to archivists, curators, librarians, technologists and developers. Delegates will see how successful sites that exemplify the conference themes are built and have the opportunity to understand emerging trends, share knowledge and expertise, and develop their network of contacts and project partners.

This year the event is held in Amsterdam’s vibrant Westergasfabriek cultural centre.

Media contacts are welcome to attend Europeana Open Culture 2010 – please complete our registration. Interviews can be booked with keynote speakers and experts: please contact jonathan.purday@bl.uk.

Invitation for the Europeana Open Culture 2010 Conference

Press release by Europeana

We are pleased to invite you to the Europeana Open Culture 2010 conference, our annual event that highlights current challenges in our sector and works on practical solutions for the future.

The event is in two parts:

Europeana pre-conference meetings are for the Europeana Foundation Board, the Council of Content Providers and Aggregators and contributors to v1.0 Work Packages. The meetings will be on 13 October 2010 at the Koninklijke Bibliotheek (KB) in The Hague and in the morning of 14 October at Amsterdam’s Westergasfabriek (the main conference venue).

The Europeana Open Culture 2010 main conference is on the 14 October (afternoon) and 15 October (morning) at Westergasfabriek in Amsterdam.
Open Culture 2010 will focus on how museums, libraries, archives and audiovisual collections can create public value by making digital information and knowledge openly available. The keynote speaker is Liam Wyatt, the British Museum’s first Wikipedian in Residence, whose innovative work in bringing the curator and the crowd together sparked international interest and significant traffic.

Three parallel sessions led by experts in the field get right to the heart of current concerns – linked data, User Generated Content and the risks and rewards of openness. Specialists with different perspectives will run small problem-solving groups and there will be demos of innovative sites that exemplify our themes.

The conference is free, and Europeana v1.0 will cover the travel and hotel costs of one delegate from each partner in the Thematic Network.

Europeana Open Culture 2010 will bring together people who are setting the agenda. Join us to stay in touch with the network’s latest thinking. Register now!

A richer data model for Europeana

Announcement by Europeana

The Europeana Data Model (EDM) – a new way of structuring data that will bring the benefits of Semantic Web technology to Europeana.eu – has just been published. The release of the EDM indicates a qualitative change in the way Europeana will deal with metadata gathered from content providers. It will open up the possibility for browsing Europeana in new and revealing ways which are not possible with the current Europeana Semantic Elements data model. For example, the EDM will allow a digital object from one provider to be shown alongside a relevant article about the object or a thesaurus offered by other institutions, offering more context and information for users.
Once Europeana starts receiving content formatted using the EDM next year, it will also enable the use of linked data, which allows connections to be made between search terms. With linked data, a search for the “Virgin Mary” could lead to results not just for that single term, but also to objects labelled as “Mary, Mother Of Christ”, “the Blessed Virgin” or “Heilige Maria”.

Developed by members of Europeana v1.0, EuropeanaConnect and experts from academic and cultural circles, the EDM has been validated by technical specialists at libraries, museums, archives and audio-visual collections. This group will continue to make refinements to the EDM over the coming months, as testing is carried out between now and January 2011. The EDM is backwardly compatible with ESE, and will start to be used by data providers during 2011.

The EDM Primer and the Definition of the EDM Elements are in the Technical documents section of the v1.0 website.

Europeana Publishes First White Paper: Knowledge = Information In Context

Europeana press release

Europeana is proud to announce its first White Paper: a look at the key role linked data will play in Europeana’s development and in helping Europe’s citizens make connections between existing knowledge to achieve new cultural and scientific advances.

Linked data gives machines the ability to make associations and put search terms into context. Without it, Europeana could be seen as a simple collection of digital objects. With linked data, the potential is far greater, as the author of the white paper, Prof. Stefan Gradmann, explains.

He uses an example from the experimental Thought Lab to show how a search for ‘Paris’ intuitively leads to connected concepts like items in the Louvre, a Paris-based institution. It also gives the option to see paintings portraying people named Paris, such as the Greek prince, who abducted of Helen of Troy. From there, more links point the way to topics like the ‘myth of Paris’ or the mythical Apple of Discord – a golden apple that sparked a dispute and eventually led to the Trojan War – and then on to the forbidden apple eaten by Adam and Eve.

This is just one example of how linked data will allow Europeana to propose connections between millions of items from Europe’s heritage. These connections can then be used to generate new ideas and knowledge, on a scale not possible before.

“Strange as it may seem, this is the way lots of original artwork is conceived: through mental operations based on shifts of meaning, connotation and personal association,” says Prof. Gradmann, an expert in semantic technology, a professor for Library and Information Science at Humboldt University in Berlin and someone heavily involved in the building of Europeana.

Prof. Gradmann places this advanced search technology at the heart of Europeana’s purpose.

“One of Europeana’s main roles should be to help Europe’s citizens create a new era of knowledge from our shared culture and history.”

The publication of the White Paper follows the recent release of another key document from Europeana, the Public Domain Charter. The Charter emphasises the importance of preserving and keeping the Public Domain accessible to those who own it: the public.

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