I've seen several attempts at creating elevator pitches for the semantic web in the past, but the community's thinking has advanced a lot in the past few years and the simpler formulation of Linked Data is more readily understandable for most people. So what is the elevator pitch for Linked Data today. I am looking specifically for elevator pitches that focus on the goals and benefits, not the technology.


asked 16 Apr '10, 00:30

Ian%20Davis's gravatar image

Ian Davis
accept rate: 13%

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I think I first heard a version of this use-case from Timbl and have been using ever since:

The Semantic Web is The Web only with more data and information consumable by machines.

Imagine looking to buy "a yellow car". A search needs to know a page is about a car, that the car is still up for sale, that it is located not too far away. Such a search at the moment requires a lot of Googling or both the buyer and seller using an intermediary, such as a well known car trading Website.

Using hyperlinks for common terms on your Web pages as well as the text moves you up the ladder towards machine processing. A browser, spreadsheet, search engine, (whatever) can then make simple inferences to match "custard", "lemon", as all actually being "yellow".

The constant, virtuous feedback loop which built The Web may then drive agreements on terms, or at least mappings between common terms for your purposes which may enable you to further leaps of inference: "find me an automatic, yellow car" and have your agent discard the FooBar Model Z because they all had manual transmissions."

Ultimately The Semantic Web is a set of standards, tools, and techniques, working towards the vision of a uniform, distributed Data Web, using hyperlinks to generically express data terms and relationships, allowing searches, mashups and inferences which will lead to some powerful and more exciting unintended consequences than the current, beautiful, but human oriented Web of Documents."

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answered 18 Apr '10, 10:12

psd's gravatar image

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edited 18 Apr '10, 10:26


Jim Hendler had one of the best ones three years ago (http://swig.xmlhack.com/2007/11/30/2007-11-30.html) in which he was talking about the semantic web, but I use his elevator pitch on a slide when I'm defining Linked Data: "My document can point at your document on the Web, but my database can't point at something in your database without writing special purpose code. The SW aims at fixing that."

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answered 16 Apr '10, 03:10

bobdc's gravatar image

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Yes I agree with the sentiment (of course I would!). But it doesn't answer the question of what advantage that gives. They have to figure it out for themselves and if they don't have direct developer experience with databases they won't see the current difficulty. Database vendors have been saying for 4 decades how they will make data management smooth, easy and painless.

(16 Apr '10, 07:45) Ian Davis Ian%20Davis's gravatar image

Without actual hands-on developer experience, more and more CIOs and even other C?Os still understand the business benefits of easier cross-silo database integration. I'm confident that the image of disparate documents pointing at each other on the web, and what that turned into once it scaled up, gives many of them enough context to understand the potential benefits of any public or private data points being able to unambiguously reference any other data that's either publicly available or behind the same firewall.

(23 Apr '10, 03:24) bobdc bobdc's gravatar image

This may not be a direct answer to your question, but it has worked for me in the past when I talk about Linked Data to non-semantic web people.

http://www.slideshare.net/juansequeda/introduction-to-linked-data-2341398 slide 50

They: What is my incentive to publish Linked Data? Me: What was your incentive to publish an HTML page in 1990? They: ... Me: 1) to share data in documents and 2) because your neighbor was doing it They: ... Me: What is your incentive to publish Linked Data now? They: ... Me: 1) to share data as data and 2) because your neighbor is doing it (and now show the list of big shots that are publishing linked data)

This has worked for me. At least it is an eye opener!

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answered 16 Apr '10, 02:09

Juan%20Sequeda's gravatar image

Juan Sequeda
accept rate: 42%


Yes, I use this analogy too. I sometimes talk about the switch over from asking "why should I have a website?" to "why shouldn't I have a website?" that occurred around 1999. But there are lots of forces that could prevent or delay that switch in thinking for linked data. An elevator pitch to get people hooked on the idea would be very helpful.

(16 Apr '10, 07:43) Ian Davis Ian%20Davis's gravatar image

Who is your audience? Is it a web developer? CEO? VC? my parents? Oprah? (remember that email thread?)

There has to be different elevator pitches for different audiences.

(16 Apr '10, 08:39) Juan Sequeda Juan%20Sequeda's gravatar image

yes, fair point. Assume the audience is a business owner.

(16 Apr '10, 13:24) Ian Davis Ian%20Davis's gravatar image

I guess it really depends on the audience and what you want to "sell" them. But as a general short overview for people ranging from "mom" to tech-savy, I personally use a small example:

"Imagine you want to know who has ever worked on music used for a movie made by a member of the Coppola family. You find all the information freely on the web (IMDB, wikipedia, musicbrainz and others... you even have the link between the websites) but it will take you ages to build this list manually and to cross references from the various website. with semantic Web / linked data, it can be answered in no time"

It can be seen as an artificial example but I like it because people usually gets it (the complexity of the question, the fact that the data is there but not usable), it makes references to general cultures, and you can then find some other examples closer to the business domain of the audience. I sometimes got similar question that people wanted to answer based on their company data as an answer to this example...

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answered 18 Apr '10, 11:52

florent's gravatar image

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+1 IMHO, the most people gets it, the better

(15 Apr '11, 01:44) Herman A. Junge Herman%20A.%20Junge's gravatar image

I like the following statement best:

"Linked Data is the idea that the merger of a database produced by one provider and another database produced by a second provider has value much larger than that of the two separate databases." (courtesy of Eric Hellman)

The statement and subsequent discussions are available at http://groups.google.com/group/business-of-linked-data-bold/browse_thread/thread/897f8e80783c1f11#

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answered 18 Apr '10, 14:33

Daniel%201's gravatar image

Daniel 1
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The web allowed almost everyone to reach nearly every computer in the world to find any sort of information. People then used that ability to connect to each other as well.

Now, the semantic web allows almost any computer to reach almost all other computers for data about anything, and then combine it. This will allow the machines to answer pretty much any sort of question that you can think of, and plenty more that we can't think of yet.

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answered 22 Apr '10, 23:11

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Linking data allows you to focus on the core piece you really care about, while benefiting over time from enrichments made by others with different priorities and concerns. So it is appealing as a scoping strategy to those with limited resources who want nevertheless to keep their options open for the future.

Perhaps I publish a photo of a restaurant, with a food review on one site. Someone else publishes a wiki entry elsewhere noting that they have good wheelchair access and offer vegan options.

If these are linked (by homepage, phone number, whatever) then the photo is no longer just a photo of a restaurant; it becomes a photo of a vegan-friendly restaurant with wheelchair access. And the wiki entry is equally enriched. If the photo contained geo-tags (likely, as most digital cameras are phone-based these days), then both pieces of information are also linked to everything else we know about that place... independently managed fragments of information growing in value because we've linked them to form a network.

Ok that's too wordy for most elevator rides, and all the vegan/accessibility stuff might be too goody-goody for some red-blooded capitalists, but I think some story with this structure might work.

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answered 18 Apr '10, 06:26

danbri's gravatar image

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I very much agree with Ian, the point of an elevator pitch is to relay the key point(s) of the proposition to your audience in a memorable way and get them hooked, before they get off. At HPLB, our model was two floors ;)

I tell people that linked data is a low barriers-to-entry approach to publishing their data, getting it used by others and being able to use data from others to create applications of value. I tell them linked data creates value based on the same network principles as the current Web of Documents, using the same principles of identification and linking and the same protocols.

I tell them that linked data naturally extends the current web by bringing data into the mix, improving the performance of current infrastructure (such as search) but also creating valuable (and cool) new applications and capabilities!

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answered 16 Apr '10, 11:17

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The semantic web is project to make computers more human literate.

Just as today's web lets us focus on documents rather than computers and networks so the semantic web lets us focus on things, people, places and ideas; and because people tend to think about things and ideas (and not webpages) that brings us closer to a web built around how we think about the world. A web that is more useful and easier to use.

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answered 18 Apr '10, 11:06

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The more people use your data the more valuable your data becomes and everybody (including you, the publisher) benefit from this.

Information has intrinsic value which does depend on the data itself and does not change with the use of the data.

Linked Data is the best approach to maximize the extrinsic value of your data published on the Web and to leverage external contributions to improve the quality of your data itself (i.e. "Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow", a.k.a. Linus's Law).

Linked Data allows the publisher to become and remain an "hub" between who provides the data and who consumes it.

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answered 18 Apr '10, 12:59

castagna's gravatar image

accept rate: 27%

edited 18 Apr '10, 13:45

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question asked: 16 Apr '10, 00:30

question was seen: 10,434 times

last updated: 15 Apr '11, 05:01