Yesterday I attended the OKCon Open Knowledge Conference. The conference — which was attended by around 70 people (by my rough count) — brought together a wide variety of people to present on a range of topics from knowledge transfer for sustainable development through to linked data and the semantic web. A really broad range of issues that ranged from the social to the technical. While I’m not sure that the mix always worked, I came away having learnt about a number of interesting projects. I also noticed a definite theme centred on the need for easier publishing and sharing of data and information between development projects.
Which is why I was pleased to be able to announce at the end of my talk a new initiative from Talis called the Talis Connected Commons. We’ve been working on this plan for a while, so it was great to be able to finally publically share the details. The essence of the scheme is that you can now host public domain data in the Talis Platform for free, and immediately use the existing Platform services to interact with that data. That covers both simple data access and searching features through to a SPARQL endpoint, with outputs in a range of formats including RDF/XML, RSS and JSON.
There are a couple of, quite reasonable, conditions that apply. Firstly the data has to be truly in public domain, which means using one of the currently defined open data licences (i.e. CC0 or Open Data Commons PDDL). Secondly there’s an upper limit on the storage: 50 million triples and 10gb of supporting content. But that’s plenty of room in which to host some interesting data.
Personally I think this is great news for open data projects as it means that there is an immediately available infrastructure and API into which you can pour your data. And, importantly, retrieve it again afterwards; there are plenty of ways to get data into and out of the Platform. This means that the focus can be on the data collection and publishing, which is where it should be.
There should be a lot of useful and interesting data sets that can be published in this way. I’m expecting that the scheme should be of immediate interest to people working with public sector information and around publishing of open scientific data. For more information on the scheme check out the homepage and the detailed FAQ.
It’s great to be working for a company that takes open data this seriously. And is a concrete sign of its commitment to helping build a truly open data commons. (We’re hiring, btw.)