Ethics in Linked Data

Editors: Alexandra Provo, Kathleen Burlingame, and B.M. Watson

Price: $60

Published: November 2023

ISBN: 978-1-63400-133-5

492 pages

This edited collection brings together contributions that explore ethics in linked data initiatives. Discussions about linked data and its potential are often utopian and technophiliac, rarely examining darker implications or harmful consequences. Since technology cannot exist outside of social, cultural, and economic spheres, it is important for creators and stewards of linked data and its related systems to recognize and address the impact (whether intended or not, positive or negative) on the communities, individuals affected. Engaging in critical and ethical analysis is ultimately an optimistic endeavor aimed at exposing problematic issues, generating best practices and guidelines, and opening up positive and generative possibilities for the implementation and use of linked data in GLAMS  (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, Museums, Special Collections).

The central premise of this book is that it is imperative: 

  • to foreground ethics rather than apply them as an afterthought, 
  • to acknowledge and mitigate the damage caused by existing systems, 
  • to create a place and space of justice for the minoritized, 
  • and to enable more ethical outcomes in linked data projects. 

This book collects the voices of practitioners, technologists, and developers working on linked data initiatives; scholars working at the intersection of ethics, cultural heritage, and technology; and workers in GLAMS, among others in order to explore emerging and changing technical and ethical landscapes. Contributions investigate the intersection of linked data with such topics as gender, indigenous knowledge, inclusive data creation, authority control, identity management, systems design, codes of ethics, sustainability, critiques of fundamental linked data models, and more.

Alexandra Provo (she/her) is Metadata Librarian at New York University’s Division of Libraries and co-coordinator of the NYU/LIU Dual Degree Mentorship Program. She is also a Visiting Assistant Professor at Pratt Institute, where she teaches a course on metadata. She was previously Project Manager and Digital Production Editor for the Enhanced Networked Monographs project at NYU. In 2015-2016 she was the Kress Fellow in Art Librarianship at Yale University. She has been the project manager for two linked open data projects: Drawings of the Florentine Painters and the Linked Jazz Project. Currently an MA candidate in XE: Experimental Humanities and Social Engagement at NYU, she has an MSLIS from Pratt Institute and a BA in art history from Wesleyan University.

Kathleen Burlingame (she/her) is Electronic Discovery and Access Librarian at the University of Pennsylvania Libraries and chairs its Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Discovery strategic team. Burlingame has worked on numerous linked data initiatives and co-founded the LD4 Ethics affinity group. She has a BA from Oberlin College, an MLS and MA in Literature from Indiana University-Bloomington and a professional certificate in UX Design from the University of the Arts.

B.M. Watson (they/them; @brimwats) is a white queer crip & nonbinary settler living in Musqueam, Tsleil-Waututh, and Squamish. They are pursuing their PhD at the University of British Columbia’s iSchool focusing on equitable cataloging in libraries, archives, and museums & how they can use community-supported terminology. Watson has a MLIS from Indiana University focusing on archives and digital humanities and a MA in history of sexuality and the book from Drew University. They also serve as the Archivist-Historian of APA’s Consensual Non-Monogamy Committee and on the Editorial Board of the Homosaurus.