Linked Digital Future - Un avenir numérique lié Successes and lessons learned in year one

As we wrap up a busy first phase of the Linked Digital Future initiative, we’d like to share a few successes and lessons learned with the performing arts community.

A few highlights of the last year

We published a research report with the Bern University of Applied Sciences. We also delivered a conceptual model to represent performing arts information as linked open data.

We provided training and coaching on digital discoverability and digital transformation to more than 500 hundred cultural workers. We noted enthusiasm for Wikidata and Schema structured data. Participants also acknowledged that “new collaboration mindsets are required if the performing arts sector is to succeed in the digital world.”

We worked with Culture Creates and with performing arts organizations to populate the knowledge graph with linked open data on events, venues and organizations. 17 performing arts presenting organizations participated in the first cohort Digital Discoverability Program. Culture Creates used the Footlight technology to translate information on their websites into linked open data. 

By March 2020, the knowledge graph was storing 47,000 URIs of performing arts entities and 456,000 RDF triple statements (subject-predicate-object). Of these statements, more than half were automatically generated through inference rules. Simply put, inference rules automatically doubled the amount of knowledge in the graph. 

This is a potent example of what David McComb has described as “self-assembling data structures”: with URIs and a graph database, the system does the join for you.

Use cases for linked open data are described in our research report. Technical details about our prototyping activities are available in this annual report.

What we learned

We drew way too many lessons learned to fit them all into a single blog post. So let’s sum them all this way:

For performing arts stakeholders to adopt common data models and linked open data…

  1. A shift from competitive to co-opetitive mindsets is required.
  2. People need not only be told what’s in it for them. They also need to manipulate their data and see it at work as Schema structured data and in Wikidata.
  3. A common conceptual model is absolutely needed. But so is a critical mass of data exposed as linked open data. The two of them must advance hand in hand.

One of the biggest challenges, however, will remain the shortage of service providers who can develop knowledge graphs. Culture Creates is one of very few companies around the world with expertise in both the arts and graph data – and we feel privileged to work with them. 

But we really shouldn’t be the only ones accessing these kinds of services. The entire arts sector needs to embrace graph data.

What’s next

All current LDF activities will continue in 2020-2021. 

In addition:

  1. We will undertake modelling and populating activities in Wikidata in partnership with Conseil québécois du théâtre and LaCogency. This project will involve training and populating activities.
  2. We will undertake exploratory activities for the development of a governance framework for open and shared data in the performing arts.
  3. We will collaborate with the Bern University of Applied Sciences and international partners to build a Linked Open Data Ecosystem for the Performing Arts. 
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