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FYI, Linked Data

Linked Data for Dummies

Every now and then I ask myself: how would you explain the Linked Data stuff I’m doing to our children or to my parents, FWIW. So, here is an attempt to explain the Linked Data Web, and I promise that I wont use any lingo in the following:

Imagine you’re in a huge building with several storeys, each with an incredible large amount of rooms. Each room has tons of things in it. It’s utterly dark in that building, all you can do is walk down a hallway till you bang into a door or a wall. All the rooms in the buildings are somehow connected but you don’t know how. Now, I tell you that in some rooms there is a treasure hidden and you’ve got one hour to find it.

Here comes the good news: you’re not left to your own resources. You have a jinn, let’s call him Goog, who will help you. Goog is able to take you instantaneously to any room once you tell him a magic word. Let’s imagine the treasure you’re after is a chocolate bar, and you tell Goog: “I want Twox”. Goog tells you now that there are 3579 rooms where there is something with “Twox” in there. So you start with the first room Goog suggests to you, and as a good jinn he of course takes you there immediately; you don’t need to walk there. Now you’re in the room you put everything you can grab into your rucksack and get back outside (remember, you can’t see anything, in there). Once you are outside the building again and can finally see what you’ve gathered you find out that what is in your rucksack is not really what you wanted. So, you have to get back into the building again and try the second room. Again, and again till you eventually find the Twox you want (and you are really hungry now, right?).

Now, imagine the same building but all the rooms and stairs are marked with fluorescent stripes in different colours, for example a hallway that leads you to some food is marked with a green stripe. Furthermore, the things in the rooms have also fluorescent markers in different shapes. For example, Twox chocolate bars are marked with green circles. And there is another jinn now as well- say hello to LinD. You ask LinD the same thing as Goog before: “I want Twox” and LinD asks you: do you mean Twox the chocolate bar or Twox the car? Well, the chocolate bar of course, you say and LinD tells you: I know about 23 rooms that contain Twox chocolate bars, I will get one for you in a moment.

How can LinD do this? Is LinD so much more clever than Goog?

Well, not really. LinD does not understand what a chocolate bar is, pretty much the same as Goog does not know. However, LinD knows how to use the fluorescent stripes and markers in the building, and can thus get you directly what you want.

You see. It’s the same building and the same things in there, but with a bit of a help in forms of markers we can find and gather things much quicker and with less disappointments involved.

In the Linked Data Web we mark the things and hallways in the building, enabling jinns such as LinD to help you to find and use your treasures. As quick and comfortable as possible and no matter where they are.

About woddiscovery

Web of Data researcher and practitioner


7 thoughts on “Linked Data for Dummies

  1. Very nice explanation of using semantics, but shouldn’t this example incorporate the greater value: Linking Data and use this in your advantage?

    Posted by Bas | 2010-05-20, 08:40
  2. Couldn’t you explain it more directly? If an expert from an area that I don’t understand tries to explain something to me, I want them to stay as close to their domain as possible without using lingo.

    Usually people I talk to understand when I put it as follows: “Imagine googling for Paris. What if there was a way to tell Google that you are looking for city-related data and want to avoid news about Ms. Hilton?” If you feel fancy, you can even throw in the word “synonym” which often makes immediate sense to people.

    Posted by Axel Rauschmayer | 2010-05-20, 11:03
  3. very good explanation for Linked Data!Hope that explanations like that will make people see the great usefulness of LinkedD…. 🙂

    Posted by nikos lianeris | 2010-05-20, 19:02
  4. Cool explanation.
    You might be able to improve it by using the power of distributed data, search is not really the benefits of linked data.

    Another big benefits is that it becomes super easy to match sets of data which are managed by different people in different contexts with different cultural backgrounds. It doesn’t require people to fit one knowledge model, but to each of us use our own and connect the dots.

    Posted by karl | 2010-05-28, 17:19


  1. Pingback: Scott Banwart's Blog » Blog Archive » Distributed Weekly 51 - 2010-05-21

  2. Pingback: Aidú » Blog Archive » What is Linked Open Data (LOD) - 2010-05-22

  3. Pingback: hangingtogether.org » Blog Archive » Linked Data – for the enlightened non-geek reader (or dummies) (or managers) - 2012-06-26

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