And Welcome to the LUCERO project!

As you probably have noticed, this is not exactly the first post on this blog. As you can see from the about page, LUCERO is a JISC funded project and JISC encourage us to use the blog of the project also as a reporting tool. The 7 first posts therefore correspond to the project workplan and, while some of it can be of interest, the rest is mostly bureaucratic things.

To summarize all what that says, LUCERO is a one year project started last June at The Open University (OU), with the goal to set up and launch a complete infrastructure, both technical and organizational, for the exposure of educational and research content as linked data. A higher education organization such the OU typically creates and manages vast amounts of data in different repositories, including library catalogs, publication bases, staff directories, A/V material, course descriptions, etc. Linked data is a set of principles and technologies making it possible to publish data on the Web, in a standard, machine readable format, and where every piece of information is “Web addressable”, i.e., identified by a URI, and so linkable. This allows to seamlessly integrate data, creating on the Web a network of data, much like there is currently a network of documents. This is obviously a very brief and general summary (you can have a look at the Linked Data Horizon Scan document for more), but already, the potential of applying this to large University repositories should appear evident. What LUCERO intends to do is to create a OU Web of Data, connecting all the repositories with each other and with external datasets. More importantly, we want to use this experience to provide reusable software and guidelines for other similar organizations to take advantage of the linked data approach, through setting up and sustaining the exposure of educational content as linked data.

Of course, we don’t start from scratch. Several organizations have already been publishing data online, such as the BBC, the UK government or, closer to us, the ECS school at the University of Southampton. However, the scale of the task in organizational terms, the non-technological issues involved and the endless possibilities implied by releasing and connecting such data clearly makes LUCERO a unique experience. Indeed, one of the goals of LUCERO is also to concretely demonstrate the benefit of linked data, through the development of applications targeting students and researchers, focusing on the domain of Arts. But that should really be the topic of another blog post later in the project, as will be the details of the different datasets we consider, the tools we experiment with and the issues we will need to tackle.