Victory of Openness: Where next?



Openness has thrived in recent years, not only in the Linked Open Data space, but also in Open Science, Open Access, Open Education, Open Educational Resources... but where do we go from here? How could we make the most of all this knowledge sharing over the web? With the diffusion of open-source software and publishing technologies, contributing to the web today is both easy and inexpensive. But how do we go from making content openly available to harnessing the web’s most powerful feature —links— to connect, contextualise, and ultimately make resources more discoverable?

As cultural heritage organisations around the world digitised their collections, they have also built idiosyncratic web applications and digital repositories that are largely disconnected from the rest of the web.

While open publishing practices and increased accessibility are generally positive, discoverability remains a challenge. Moreover, for libraries and cultural heritage organisations, the mission of disseminating knowledge is only half complete if their resources are not easily found and used.

Greater awareness of this need to connect and contextualise resources has led to a growing number of online repositories and digital collections being built with shared ontologies and linked open data in mind. These developments represent concrete steps towards greater interoperability between collections. This creates new opportunities for inter-linking readily available digital resources for enhanced discoverability.

In this talk, André Avorio will investigate the emerging landscape of open and interconnected digital collections from cultural heritage organisations around the world. He will present the challenges and experiences involved in building the Open Music Library (OML), the world’s largest free index of digital resources for the study of music. The Open Music Library is a real professional application that leverages shared ontologies, linked open data and principles of the semantic web to connect disparate music collections and to establish meaningful links between the items they hold.

By aggregating, enriching and integrating valuable digital resources, the Open Music Library aims not only to advance the state of the art in knowledge discovery over the web, but also to create opportunities for creative reuse, and to promote new possibilities for research and collaboration. The initiative currently includes digital music collections from the Bibliothèque nationale de France, Biblioteca Nacional de España, British Library, the Library of Congress, the National Library of Poland, and others.


André Avorio is a digital innovator specialising in online collaboration and open platforms. Working in the intersection of business strategy, digital technologies and user experience, André has led digital transformation and product development projects in Brazil, US and the UK. He heads the Open Music Library initiative at Alexander Street, pairing open access and for-fee multimedia content with cutting-edge digital technologies to transform the way people research, learn and teach. André is a graduate of the University of Oxford’s Internet Institute with a focus on the strategic challenges faced by the education and publishing sectors catalysed by the emergence of digital technologies. Learn more about him at