Call for Chapter Proposals: Ethics in Linked Data

Working Title: Ethics in Linked Data
Editors: Kathleen Burlingame, Alexandra Provo, B. M. Watson and the Ethics in Linked Data Affinity Group
Submission Deadline: March 31, 2021
Publisher: Litwin Books

Book Description

This edited collection brings together contributions that explore the consideration (or lack thereof) of 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 and environmental 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, and ecosystems 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 possible: 

  • 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.

By recognizing the current and historical use of technologies as control mechanisms among people and communities (for example, the intertwining of utilitarian and imperialist data generation in the 19th century to the use of data in genocides, algorithmic bias, and surveillance capitalism today), and acknowledging that design and use of technology does not happen in a vacuum, proposals should speak to a variety of ongoing conversations on how linked data expands or counteracts many issues often discussed in critical information organization such as those listed below, among others.

This book aims to collect 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. The editors seek chapters examining what it means to be ethical in a linked data environment, and especially welcome case studies, theoretical and practice-based essays, stories, content analyses, and other methods. 

Possible topics include (but are not limited to)

The intersection(s) of linked data and:

  • Ability to use linked data technology (social and technical)
  • Accessibility/Ableism
  • Codes of ethics/conduct
  • Colonialism
  • Controlled vocabularies and classification schemata 
  • Data sovereignty
  • Discovery search and display (e.g., algorithms, knowledge graphs)
  • Division of labor in data creation and curation
  • Ethics in artificial intelligence
  • Gender and sexuality
  • Identity management
  • Implicit bias
  • Institutional and economic access to linked data technology 
  • Metadata longevity, authority, and data infrastructures
  • Mitigating risks or harm
  • Privacy
  • Racism
  • Surveillance
  • Standardization and control
  • Trust
  • Value sensitive design


  • Information Session with Editors:  February 11th 2021
  • Deadline for Chapter Proposals: March 31, 2021
  • Notification of Accepted Chapter Proposals: April 30, 2021
  • Chapter drafts due: December 15, 2021


Please direct any questions and email abstracts of up to 500 words to in a .docx or .pdf format, along with a short author bio around 100 words to .

Abstracts should briefly describe your topic and how your chapter will examine what it means to be ethical in a linked data environment. You are welcome to submit multiple abstracts about different possible topics. If your submission is tentatively accepted, the editors may request modifications. Material cannot be previously published.

Final chapters will be in the 2000-5000 word range. Proposals that explore linked data ethics and social justice in non-white, non-Western, disabled, and/or queer contexts are particularly encouraged. The editors are also especially interested in case studies or project reports that describe the use of linked data in non-hegemonic ways.

For those interested in submitting a proposal, or learning more about ethics in linked data the editors held an information session on February 11th to answer questions. The session was recorded, and can be accessed here.

About the Editors

Inspiration and ongoing feedback for this compilation is grounded in discussions conducted through the Linked Data for Libraries (LD4) Ethics Affinity Group. This group is open to all, providing an inclusive space for discourse and troubleshooting of ethical issues in linked data technologies and projects. 

More information: 

Kathleen Burlingame (she/her) has been creating and managing library metadata for over a decade and is currently Electronic Discovery and Access Librarian at the University of Pennsylvania. She has worked on various linked data initiatives including LD4P2, SHARE-VDE, and the PCC Wikidata pilot. Kathleen has training in critical race theory, UX design, and web accessibility and co-founded the LD4 Ethics Affinity group.

Alexandra Provo (she/her) is Metadata Librarian at New York University’s Division of Libraries. She was previously Project Manager and Digital Production Editor for the Enhanced Networked Monographs project at NYU. 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.

B. M. Watson (they/them) is a PhD. student at the University of British Columbia’s School of Information focusing on equitable cataloging in galleries, archives, museums, and special collections. They are interested in the use of linked open data for reclamatory and liberatory cataloging work. Additionally, they are the Director of, an open access resource for the history of sexuality, and contribute to the Homosaurus LGBTQ linked data vocabulary. They serve as the Archivist-Historian of the Consensual Nonmonogamy Taskforce of the APA.