Richard Wallis is founder of Data Liberate. A Technology Evangelist and Consultant, he is at the forefront in promoting, explaining, and applying new and emerging Web and Semantic Web technologies in the wider information domain. Richard is well known on the conference platform in the Semantic Web, Library, and Information Management sectors. He is also an active blogger and regular podcaster.
2012 will be the year that Semantic Web and Linked Data technologies could go mainstream, but yet will get talked about less. I believe this is inevitable, for a technology that is about to turn the corner, or kick up the adoption curve - choose your favourite phrase. Like the Web itself, already adopted by technology laggards, and now recognised only as a service that facilitates being 'in Facebook' or streaming movies to your tablet.
To support this theory, it is interesting look at some of the recent moves taking place in my own backyard, the UK. A couple of significant ones are coming out of the Talis stable. Talis have been at the leading edge of Semantic Web development for much of the last decade, with a reputation for promoting the practical benefits of applying Linked Data techniques and technologies, whilst evolving their cloud-based Linked Data platform to deliver and demonstrate these benefits in their own products and services.
Data Marketplace Kasabi.com has been incubating at Talis for a couple of years, taking the traditional technology startup path through alpha and closed beta. It emerged into public beta, focused upon engaging with the development community, back in March and has since been steadily attracting users and datasets. A low key announcement ahead of the recent holiday season, signaled a change of gear for the Kasabi team, to begin its "journey towards becoming a fully-fledged global business". Talis CTO Ian Davis, is stepping down to become full-time Kasabi CEO, with Leigh Dodds, who brought the project through from inception, taking on the CTO role. Although Kasabi is built on the constantly evolving Talis Platform, there is no mention of the technology in it's mission "to unlock the value in the World’s data by enabling new business models for producers and consumers of data at all scales" The investment, and work on a second generation Talis Platform, plus the resources of the respected Talis Consulting team, are being rolled in to help make Kasabi a success.
This is a great example of utilising Semantic Web technologies to deliver business benefit, without shouting about it. Kasabi is operating in an active sector populated by Microsoft, Infochimps, and others. The team behind it have a clear understanding that implementing their service on top of Linked Data should give them advantage flowing from providing an ecosystem that enables simple data mixing and aggregation.
The shift in the Semantic Web spotlight, away from enthusiasts, towards business benefit proponents, is also being reflected in a significant move that I am embarking upon. I'm moving on from my role as a Technology Evangelist at Talis to set up Data Liberate, an independent organisation to "focus on introducing, simplifying, and demystifying these often superficially complex techniques and technologies." I am approaching both sides of the adoption problem - connecting those that can benefit from adopting Linked Data with those with the technology to help them, in terms that both understand.
I am taking this step so that I can provide independent help, to those that need to understand how to liberate business, social, economic, enterprise, and financial value from their data of all types. Yes, I will still be evangelising and demonstrating the power of Linked Data, but only sharing such terms on a need-to-know basis. I was recently quoted as saying, "Linked Data will be a success when people stop talking about it." The sooner we start talking more about the benefits of applying the technology, than the technology itself, the sooner it will be widely adopted.
I will be speaking about this further in a conference session, "The Simple Power of The Link" at the upcoming Semantic Tech & Business Conference in Berlin.
A third UK example is Garlik. Founded in 2005 to utilise, then very new, Semantic Web technologies in their internal systems to deliver functionality that would have been difficult to provide in other ways. They successfully developed DataPatrol to monitor and relate personal information published on the web to help consumers protect themselves from the risks of identity theft and fraud. On the technology front they also open-sourced the 4store triple store. In December it was announced that Garlik had been purchased by Experian, one of their major customers. A great vote of confidence in the value of adopting Linked Data technology. It is obviously core to Garlik's success and attractiveness to Experian, yet it is not mentioned in the press release by name.
Declaration of interest: I am a Talis shareholder and Founder of Data Liberate.