Last week I attended the International Semantic Web Conference, and that was a pretty good time to reflect a bit on the state of linked data at the Open University, and beyond. First, because I made a presentation of it, at the industry track of the conference. This was pretty interesting, as it was an opportunity to reflect on the impact of our work.

Linked Data at the Open University: From Technical Challenges to Organizational Innovation from Mathieu d’Aquin

Judging from the discussion afterwards and some reactions on twitter, this was very much welcomed by the audience, especially as an encouragement for members of other universities to get on board the linked data train. I also demoed our latest prototype: DiscOU. It is a “discovery engine” for open educational resources which, in the current demo, can find them from BBC programmes (including iPlayer). We are actually pretty excited about this as it not only applies linked data as well as semantic search techniques to make itself more meaningful and customisable than other recommender tools, but also because it opens the way for a lot of potentially great applications, such as finding open educational resources relevant to museum exhibitions or to courses in other universities.

Now, even more interesting from this presentation and the discussions that followed was the new projects, going beyond Linked Data at the Open University. Linked Universities for example is growing pretty strong, with more datasets, vocabularies and tools being added on a regular basis, and more people getting in touch to discuss the application of linked data in their institution. We also just kicked off a new project, an EU support action called LinkedUp, that is all about web data from across various origins used to create new, innovative educational services. Finally, I’m getting involved in the development of Marimba, a tool developed in Madrid originally for the Spanish National Library to extract linked data from MARC-based library catalogues using customised mappings. We are now working on providing this tool to other universities, including university libraries.