Discovery Summit: Paul Walk keynote

Paul talking about Open and Closed – not licensing or access, but about ‘open world assumption’ vs ‘closed world assumption’

Paul describes characteristics of ‘open world’:

  • Incomplete information
  • Schema-less data
  • Web technologies – http; html5; rdf
  • Platform independence; scales well; cross-context discovery potential

Closed world characteristics:

  • Complete information
  • Schema-based data; Records
  • Web tech – http delivering to native apps
  • Performance; contextualised discovery; quality; curation

Need to decide when to apply each of these approaches – strengths and weaknesses

Web still best available foundation of what we are doing, but still need to manage resources; quality etc.

Quote from Leslie Lamport “a distributed system is one in which the failure of a computer you didn’t even know existed can render your own computer unusable”

As a developer why should I trust your API – that it will work, that it will continue to work – if you don’t use it yourself as the service owner? See Paul’s blog post on this.

APIs are not best thought of a machine-to-machine interfaces. APIs are interfaces for developers! Talk to developers who are likely to use your API. Developer is to API as ‘user’ is to UI.

Yesterday Paul hosted a meeting for developers to get their point of view [which I was fortunate enough to attend]. Some things that came out of this:

  • please don’t build elaborate APIs which do not allow us to see all of the data or its extent 
  • Offering an API which delivers incomplete data is usually self-defeating – that is, don’t hold data back because you are worried about its quality

Introducing this afternoon’s sessions:

Emerging technologies – Graph based data (see work by Facebook, Google, BBC etc.)

Reasons for aggregation – to avoid systems/network latency; showcase; ‘web scale’ concentration; …

Data quality issues – concern about data quality can prevent release of data (which consumers don’t like); but poor data quality erodes trust and can affect reputation; reconciling these things is a major challenge


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