More field goals, fewer pratfalls

For a computer user in the humanities who doesn't develop their own tools and information systems (for all kinds of good reasons), using technology "the right way" may look like an ever-growing list of fashion prescriptions.

  • "Use MS Access or Filemaker"

  • "Use a relational database"

  • "Use TEI XML"

  • "Implement web services"

  • "Provide RSS feeds"

  • "Make a web API"

  • "Cool URIs for everything"

  • "Use RDF"

  • "Use a triple store"

  • "Use ontology X"

  • and so on ...

Of all the discussions at LAWDI, the one that's on my mind this morning is the very short one I had with Eric Kansa about what happens when linked data principles start being used as criteria for evaluating the fundworthiness of projects in classics and archaeology. It could be disruptive, and it's on me and Eric and others to make sure that we're not setting researchers up for a frustrating run at a football that is pulled away at the last moment.

Maybe the following might be useful prescriptions for we linked data evangelists.

  • Don't focus too much on counting triples.

  • Don't beat projects up about their ugly URIs.

  • Don't make openness a moral issue.

  • Let projects get easy wins from simple vocabularies and ontologies (SKOS, for example).

  • Show people what to do instead of telling people what to do.

  • Emphasize results and getting things done.

I'm sure others can think of more.