Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Research publisher as a platform

As yet another newspaper "gets it" and launches an API ("Open Platform") to its content ("Newspaper as a Platform: Guardian Launches API" - ReadWriteWeb), leveraging the creativity of the masses for the creation of mashups, mixins and just plain wonderful and wonky applications, I can only hope that the holders of significant scientific content, like scientific publishers and aggregators, will also move in this direction. Nature's OTMI seems a rather Web 1.0 inspired effort, and with limited usability at that (although Nature has stopped working on OTMI). Exposing research article contents (full text, metadata, citations, datasets, ontologies, etc) - even it be 6+ months old - to the world through a sensible (and maybe even shared/standard) API would create an explosion of mashups ranging from incredible researcher-oriented knowledge discovery tools to normal human being-oriented applications for finding things like as-yet-unreported possible dangerous drug interactions or an alert for new developments around a particular disease.

The Linked Data movement is a particularly rich and forward-looking model for doing these sorts of things, with an amazing number of very useful datasets, some with research articles (DBLP; ieee.rkbexplorer which has data from IEEE articles) but no scientific publishers have as yet decided to commit to exposing their data.

It would be nice if Google published its Google Scholar data as Linked Data, even if it were only the metadata and citations, as we know that even the great G has not as yet wrestled the right to re-distribute even the ASCII dump of the full-text of publishers' articles.

Soon, hopefully. The oxen are slow but the earth is patient.

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