Linked Research

Information control is just an idea and should not to be mistaken as something new. It is an idea that's like a splinter in the minds of some, driving them mad.

The forces that wish to make a change and those that are resisting are tangled with one another. Thus, as the position of a polemic goes, I must explain to you how all this idea of denouncing change and praising obedience was born and I will give you a complete account of the system, and expound the bullshit, the master-builder of human laziness.

This is not an attempt to convince you with the same arguments that you have heard countless times about the wonderful world of free and open access to knowledge. It is not a roadmap on how to get there by ticking all the latest check-boxes. Such endeavours, while fruitful, are still doomed to endless struggle of changing control and power.

At the heart of our challenge are not technical or social problems. We tend to get sucked into the uncertainties and contravening evidence in practically any given argument. The details, so to speak, essentially slow down the rate of progress. Nonetheless, we do it in hopes of something different.

To take a trivial example, which of us ever undertakes laborious exercise to acquire and share research knowledge, except to obtain some pluses in one form or another, all in the name of making our contributions to humanity? But who has the right to criticize someone who chooses to enjoy the pleasures of mental masturbation if there are no negative consequences, or someone who remains silent, and changes nothing?

Do we then have the right to criticize those that stand in the way of others? How about the ones that wish to silence others because it may bring them potential future discomfort?

I feel I owe you an apology. My primary agenda is to ask for your consideration to make a change in whichever way you feel about the matter of publishing and sharing knowledge instead of sitting on the sidelines and watching things unfold and accepting whatever is handed out to you. Your voice matters.

This brings me to echo an idea that's similar, if not the same as one with which you are already familiar. The idea is for Web researchers to eat their own dog-food when it comes to sharing knowledge. Use the technologies and tools that are native to the Web. Continue to push the boundaries on how we acquire and disseminate knowledge using the Web stack. We have to intentionally tap into one another's knowledge by accessing, discovering, re-mixing, and sharing to the greatest extent possible. Some might say this would be employing public-funding to its fullest potential, while others would say that they are already doing this.

A proposal to shift towards Linked Research:

Start with HTML and enrich it semantically; encapsulate everything from meta-data, references, claims, conclusions, to steps needed to reproduce the research itself. Present it with a CSS that's helpful on screen and when printed. Use JavaScript to offer interactivity to better communicate your findings and allow further experimentation. When appropriate, use other technologies from that bag labeled "Web friendly". Publish the work at a URL so that both humans and machines can access and discover. Offer a comment system so that your colleagues can publicly provide their review or feedback to improve your work and so that it is immediately accessible. Announce your research so that you get the karma points that you seek all under your authority without having to ask anyone for permission to spread your contributions. On this day, you are both the author and the publisher.

Alternatively, we can simply continue on with the existing practices. We can continue to be at the mercy of "people in power" or needs of businesses because we are overly comfortable with an archaic pipeline that's constructed by those in charge. If rated using TimBL's Linked Open Data stars, it will get us 3 stars tops on a sunny day. Who cares about the stars right? That's the same star-system with which we try to slap government stakeholders or all other data-huggers. There is too much hypocrisy and arrogance in how we use our own technology, and it might be related to laziness and obedience.

At this point you are either buying my kool-aid or you think I'm an ignorant fool. Either way, are we going to bark all day at each other, or are we going to do something for a change?

Appeared in CEUR Workshop Proceedings: Proceedings of the 3rd Workshop on Semantic Publishing

Published
2013-05-17
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