Talis: We’re Excited

This post was originally published on Nodalities Blog.

The Talis offices, for the past few weeks, have been awash with geeky excitement—that kind of near giddy excitement that comes with eager expectation. We’ve all been waiting for something important.

For some, this was no doubt augmented with the announcement of Steve’s new iPad; but that’s not what’s gotten us all worked up.

For months, we’ve been looking forward to the launch of data.gov.uk; and last week, the wraps finally came off. The official press release put it:

A major new website has been launched to the public which gives anyone who wants to use it unprecedented and free access to government data in one place.

This doesn’t quite capture the coolness of the launch, for me. Yes, it’s a major new website, and it’s point is to publish information. But, the exciting thing is that this information is being published as data: data that can be used, reused, remixed and enriched. Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s perspective was more exciting:

Making public data available for re-use is about increasing accountability and transparency and letting people create new, innovative ways of using it. Government data should be a public resource. By releasing it, we can unlock new ideas for delivering public services, help communities and society work better, and let talented entrepreneurs and engineers create new businesses and services.

The point is that this public resource is finally getting a home on the web, and an infrastructure to make it not just available, but useful.

The exceptional team behind data.gov.uk have striven to adhere to web standards in its production: including Linked Data as a priority, as Professor Nigel Shadbolt explained:

We are also going to increase the use of ‘Linked Data’ standards, which allows people to provide data in a way that is as flexible and easy-to-use as possible.

Back in November, Leigh Dodds wrote a post explaining how we’ve been involved, and there’s an official Talis Platform press release too. Basically, we’ve been working with the data.gov.uk team to help with the Linked Data part of the site—hosting the SPARQL endpoints and providing consultancy and training, for example.

I can confidently say that we’re very proud of data.gov.uk, the team behind it, and our involvement with it. We’re excited by the prospect of this data being used as raw material for clever people to make interesting, useful, even world-changing things with it. We’ve seen the beginnings and proof-of-concept projects already.

Now comes the really exciting stuff. What are you going to build?

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