Wednesday, August 05, 2015

My Nerdie Bookshelf - "Linked Data - Structured data on the web" by David Wood, Marsha Zaidman, Luke Ruth and Michael Hausenblas

This book has been a bit of a disappointment to me, the first one I had from Manning Publications.

Despite being published in 2014 you have the impression that the information provided here are stale. Only in the final chapter ("The evolving Web") a comprehensive, well written and updated viewpoint on Linked Data (and the Semantic Web) is provided, although in concise form.

The foreword by Tim Berners-Lee and the collaboration with Michael Hausenblas lured me to blind purchase the book. In particular I was looking for insights in what, in my viewpoint, is a powerful use case for Linked Data which hasn't been addressed enough, that is Semantic Enterprise Data Integration, hoping to get, as it is common for Manning books, a lot of advanced technical information. In particular I was, and still am, looking for technical advice, integration patterns and product reviews that can guide me in using Semantics to effectively interconnect enterprise data silos.

The book on the other hand revolves around a different perspective, those of a data publisher, with little (if any) notion of the technology behind Linked Data. It presents therefore all the basic concepts at a quite simple level.
This is of course a legit editorial choice but what annoyed me the most was the fact that the information provided are often outdated. No mention on JSON-LD or to the Linked Data Platform principles; CKAN, a widely used platform for creating open data repositories, is just cited but only in connection to the DataHub site. Moreover, the motivations, advantages, pros and cons of working on Linked Data are presented in a very basic, if not superficial, way.

The mention of Callimachus, the "Linked Data application server" created by the authors, left me unimpressed as well, even if it is correct to say that it has been used in interesting projects.

I must admit that I am biased and might sound arrogant (sorry if this is the case): at the end of the day I've been working on these topics for 5 years. The fact is that this book could have been appealing to beginners if only could present more up-to-date information and more detailed use cases. Linked Data looks like it was written in 2010: it could make sense to publish it in 2011, not, as it was the case, in 2014.