Re: Tim Berners-Lee on the Semantic Web

On Mon, 26 Oct 2009 12:39:09 +1100, Alexander Johannesen wrote:

>On Mon, Oct 26, 2009 at 12:30, Richard Wallis wrote:
>> In his earlier attempt to bring this thread back on track Jim said
>> “Implementing linked data, although it would be great, is years and years
>> away from any kind of practical implementation”.
>”Linked data” is itself not an implementation, but as it is something
>your current systems must implement I think Jim’s pretty spot on to
>current library infra-structure supporting it. Of *course* Talis is
>doing things right, but we’re not all on that platform yet … 🙂

Let me give an example of something I am doing right now. There was a report published in Jan/Feb of this year that I only recently discovered about Think Tanks: “The Think Tank Index” at This is a major ranking of the most important think tanks in the world.

One of the primary subjects my institution teaches is international affairs, so I have been very interested in making the materials published by think tanks (many for free on the web) available to my patrons, so this report was just the ticket for me and I did some playing.

Even though everything was in HTML or PDF, I took the sites of the think tanks and put them into a little “system” I have made which uses Google to search very easily the websites of the think tanks listed in the Think Tank Index. You can see the prototype at

The technology is very simple, reflecting my own lack of greater abilities, but the final tool is still very useful. For example, I found a document of great interest to me–I searched “librarians” and found a publication of the Heritage Foundation “Ideas matter” by Robert Reilly (2009) p. 22 (pdf p 28) (
This discusses librarians and what they have done at Guantanamo, so I plan to mention this report to ALA since they may not know about it. Although I personally am not a fan of this particular organization, that is beside the point: the information they have provided is extremely useful.

Is what I made perfect? Can it not be improved? Of course not! It only took me a couple of hours (finding the correct websites). It can be improved in a thousand ways, for one thing I can “tweak” the searches in Google. But in spite of this, it is useful today, right now. If the “index” were in a database format, if there were full identity control and linked data, of course it would be much better. But how long would that take, and this is far better than nothing at all, while it helps make the great work of U of Pennsylvania’s Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program more immediately useful.

These are the directions that things can take, once we decide to share. It can be really exciting!

Jim Weinheimer