Arrives, With Linked Data Goodness

How time flies in open data land… and how quickly things seem to get done, at least in the opening up stakes. A couple of weeks ago, @ostephens revealed that was live as a URL, and yesterday, a tweet went out from the OU’s Mathieu d’Aquin to say that some data was there… first release is the home of open linked data from The Open University. It is a platform currently developed as part of the LUCERO JISC Project to extract, interlink and expose data available in various institutional repositories of the University and make it available openly for reuse.

It seems that there’s going to be a focus on releasing data as Linked Data™, so it’ll be interesting to see, as time goes by, just how many ways we can find of gluing things together, particularly around our crown jewels: OU course codes.

If you can’t wait to get started, the SPARQL endpoint is here: Datasets look like they’re organised within particular contexts (whatever that means?!), apparently accessed as follows:

– SELECT ?blah FROM <; WHERE {…}
– SELECT ?blah FROM <; WHERE {…}

If no context is specified, the search presumably runs over everything it can?

So what’s there at the moment? For starters, there’s information from ORO, the OU’s eprints repository, as well as the OU’s iTunesU podcast directory.

I’m not much of a SPARQLer (though I can recommendTalis’ 2 day Introduction to the Web of Data workshop as a way of getting your head round the Linked Data world), but here are a couple of queries I managed to write to just check that the endpoint was working as advertised. I’m using SparqlProxy to run the queries because it offers lots of nice output formats. It also allows you to run queries from a URL, so if the Lucero team wanted to easily share the text of demo queries, they could just bookmark them, one to a page… [See end of post for Howto];-)

The titles of papers authored by surname “Weller”, as listed in ORO:

select distinct ?title from <; where {
?y a <;.
?y <; ?title.
?y <; ?z.
?z <; "Weller" ^^<;.
} LIMIT 10

SParqlproxy on

sparqlproxy results from query

Here are details of a few podcasts on iTunes relating to the course T209:

SELECT distinct ?title ?description WHERE {
?x <; <;.
?x <; ?title.
?x <; ?description } LIMIT 10

query on - podcasts

The homepage also hints at a few other datasets that may shortly be making an appearance:

– Course information originating from Study at the OU
– The OU Library Catalogue, especially focusing on course material
– Open educational content available in the OpenLearn system
– Public information about staff, locations on the OU campus, etc

From a “transparency means <em<show us where the money is” point of view, it would also be interesting to see a list of funded research projects added to the list, which might in turn provide some sort of incentive to the research councils to start releasing this data in a bit more structured way?;-)

PS just by the by, for openness folks, there’s also a fair amount of stuff on the OU’s FOI site.

PPS here’s a quick/ad hoc way of sharing queries and then running them via SPARQLProxy:

1) save the query to somewhere like Pastebin:

sparql query in pastebin

2) Grab a link to the actual text of the query. In Pastebin, “raw” actually displays the clip in HTML tags. For the really raw raw (rarrghhhh… easy, tiger;-)) you’ll need to grab the download URL, e.g.

3) Use this URL in a”SPARQL query by URI” query on SPARQLProxy:

SPARQLQuery by URI on sparqlproxy

Here’s the result:
Remote query on sparqlproxy

IF you create any queries on you’d like to share, why not add them to Pastebin, and share a link back in the comments? :-)

Author: Tony Hirst

I'm a Senior Lecturer at The Open University, with an interest in #opendata policy and practice, as well as general web tinkering...

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