TCDL 2009 talk: Better living through linking

Wednesday I spoke at the TCDL 2009 conference about why I think Linked Data is important for libraries. I've given talks about this twice before, once at the code4lib 2009 pre-conference on linked data, and a variation on that talk at the TCDL 2009 developers forum pre-conference Tuesday.

This was the first time I spoke about this in a room not entirely filled with hackers, though, so I couldn't just start talking about conneg and RDF models. It needed more context. As far as I can tell, the context that matters most is that we've been building a web for fifteen years, now, and we've continually changed how we build the web as we've changed how we use the web. So I spent most of the talk stressing how adhering to the four rules of Linked Data can help us make our libraries' stuff more relevant, more connected, and more likely to be found and used by improving how we link things together.

First, though, a comment about the contents of the slides - I work for the Library of Congress, but I wasn't representing the library at this talk, which I traveled to and gave off work hours. So that second slide is for real - the opinions are my own. You'll see a lot of LC examples, there, though, for two reasons. One is that I see these sites and think about them a lot, much like the rest of you, just more so because I'm there. When I can show an example from an LC site, it's likely something most people in a room have seen before and understand. The other reason is that LC has a long history of doing digital library stuff, so long that a lot of what's up there looks prehistoric in some ways, but at the same time, there are a lot of cool new things happening there, not all of which get a lot of attention, like LCCN Permalink. I don't work directly on any of the systems which have screenshots in these slides, so when you see images of those systems, you're not seeing my work. I know a few scattered details about the systems and am lucky to get to interact with many of the people who work on building them, but when I spoke about them at TCDL I had no intention of representing their work, and said so. My comments probably seemed more critical than promotional, but I meant them to illustrate situations we all find ourselves in at all our institutions, that we all know well about already, so it's not news to anybody that we all need to improve how we do things.

So, right, disclaimer doubly disclaimed. On with the slides:

I really enjoy events like TCDL - a single track, a healthy mix of public services, technical services, IT, managers, and administrators, and a tech focus but with a broad perspective necessary to talk tech in a roomful of diverse skills and interests. It really focuses my attention on the one or two issues that are at the core of the changes in technology coming at us. It seemed like people received the talk well, as I heard several comments from non-coders and coders alike about how it made sense that we should move in this direction.

Unfortunately I had to leave early but I'd encourage you to look at the abstracts and learn about all the great work being done in the Lone Star state.