Linked Research

Controlling information is just an idea, after all – not to be mistaken with something new. An idea that’s like a splinter in the minds of some, driving them mad. It is evident that the meme came to be long ago and evolves continuously.

The forces that wish to make a change, as well as to resist are in front of us. 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 neither a roadmap or a proposal on how to get there by ticking all the latest check-marks. Such endeavours while fruitful, they are still bound to endless struggle of changing control and power.

At the heart of our challenge are not reasons of technical or social. We tend to get sucked into the uncertainties and contravening evidence on practically any given argument. The details, so to speak, essentially slows down the rate of progress. But, we do it any way.

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 a man who chooses to enjoy the pleasures of a mental masturbation that has no annoying consequences, or one who avoids to voice themselves that produces no resultant gain?

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 discomfort in the future?

I feel I owe you an apology; my primary agenda is to ask for your consideration to make a change in however way you feel about the matter of publishing and sharing knowledge, as opposed to 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 what you are already familiar with. The idea is for Web researchers to eat their own dog-food when it comes to sharing their knowledge. To use the technologies and tools that’s native to the Web. To continue to push the boundaries on how we acquire and disseminate knowledge using the Web stack. And to be able to tap on to other’s knowledge by accessing, discovering, re-mixing and sharing in an ubiquitous matter. Some might say, this is employing public-funding to its fullest potential. While others would say that they are already doing that.

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 for your readers. Use JavaScript to offer interactivity to better communicate your findings and further experiment. Use other technologies from the same bag that’s labeled as “Web friendly” as you see appropriate. Publish at an URL so that both humans and machines can access and discover. Offer a comment system so that your colleagues can provide their review or feedback to improve your work and have it openly accessible right away. Publicly announce your research so that you get the karma points that you seek all under your authority, and dominate the search-engine results, without having to ask anyone for permission.

Or, we can simply continue on with the existing practices. Be at the mercy of “people in power” or needs of businesses because we are too comfortable with a 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? The same star-system that we try to slap government stakeholders or all other data-huggers with. Hypocrisy or being arrogant about knowing how to use our own technology? Perhaps it is just laziness or 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?

Sarven Capadisli