FAIR Data Forecast interview with Tammy Lee of CultureCreates
In 2015, Tammy Lee and Gregory Saumier-Finch co-founded CultureCreates, a for-profit semantics technology agency focused on building an open data environment for the performing arts in Canada. After a few years of struggling to develop conventional middleware for their target use cases, the two latched onto linked open data and a standards-based knowledge graph approach to large-scale events and other related performing arts data sharing.
Most recently, they’ve created a simple graph-based CMS and calendar for performing arts venues and touring companies to update and share their events calendar content. The apps that use their national Artsdata dot ca knowledge graph feed new metadata and data back into the graph.
Before CultureCreates, Tammy herself had no technology background. She did have an extensive background as a dance company tour director. In the process, she built an extensive network of connections with the Canadian dance and performing arts theater community that she relies on to this day.
Tammy found herself compelled to learn about Linked Open Data, shared, public semantic metadata and knowledge graphs simply because those were the only effective means available to solve the problems CultureCreates wanted to tackle. “We are forced to build a graph calendar” out of necessity, she said. Events data was otherwise so siloed and trapped in proprietary systems that it was “a fool’s errand” to try to link it all together for public use.
In this episode of The FAIR Data Forecast, Tammy and I discuss how CultureCreates got started, where it’s been, and what the organization’s strategy is going forward. When it comes to the event knowledge graph, Tammy says they’ve built the “track”, but now they want lots of “cars” on the tracks to make use of them. She views each car as a use case.
Others can build cars too for this track. In the meantime, CultureCreates is building cars like the events calendar and the purpose-built CMS itself.
This episode is a must-listen for those who are curious about large-scale FAIR, open knowledge sharing, and how communities like the dance community in Canada with CultureCreates’ leadership are making it possible. As Tammy Lee points out, “When you make yourself discoverable (such as via a website that includes schema.org markup), you’re building Google’s asset.”
Main takeaway: The community (such as the Performing arts community) has to take responsibility for its own linked open knowledge graph (or subgraph) to make the community independently discoverable and extensible. This way, the benefits of the most useful kinds of FAIR data sharing accrue to the users themselves, rather than to those who control a popular data silo.