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Lego Modeling Exercise

Last updated: 1-Nov-2011

During the eGov meeting Day #2, the group did a 30 minute session on creating an open government site, what we would deem necessary and important for an open gov data portal to include. The group used Lego bricks and mini-figs to depict open government and interoperability of data.

  • Jeanne offered this Lego creation: [1]
    • Lego eGov concepts on dealing with hackers and on non interoperability of disparate data sources. Some incomplete, some don't connect.
  • Phil Archer: Lego egov concepts: [2]
    • Represents very solid base, in terms of portal, needs strong platform. Provides a corridor for good navigation, to lead to goal but provides paths to explore.
  • Dave McAllister: Lego eGov concept: See [3]
    • There is a guide, apolitical guide, even in transition. Inter connected is OK but we need guidance. Quite often we need to translate. The language we speak is understood by no one Lots of things that move to indicate apps. Supports video, multimedia.
  • John Erickson: "It's not magic. It takes time to do it right." See [4]
    • Looks like a factory, combo of different people, one is robotic, industrial strength linked data, has targets, automated conversion.
    • Web and spiders to find/provide data.
    • Includes guided conversion from the Wizard.
    • The "semantification" of the content includes automation of workflow semantic to automated via guided models.
    • Last guy represents quality control, however it is done.
    • It takes careful consideration to "semantify" content.
    • Edward Scissorhands doing automated semantication but quality control is necessary -- at RPI, this is done as unit testing.
  • Bernadette Hyland: Lego has been used as a metaphor in presentations by several prominent advocates of semantic technology. Lego is a beautiful example of infinite interoperability because it is based on a standard interface.
    • The history of Lego is worth noting, from [5].
    • Started in Denmark in 1916 in Denmark. By 1949 the Lego Group began producing similar bricks, calling them "Automatic Binding Bricks." ... They had several round "studs" on top, and a hollow rectangular bottom. They would stick together, but not so tightly that they could not be pulled apart. In 1953, the bricks were given a new name: Lego Mursten, or "Lego Bricks."

As with Lego, a standard was born for interoperability, much like the W3C is the catalyst for defining interoperable standards for the Web. Perhaps one could say that where Lego has been, the Web is going ;-)

CAVEAT: While information about the engineering standards for Lego are known, there is no concept of an open, published standard for other manufacturers to produce complementary pieces to Lego. Lego has been imitated, but Lego has kept interoperability and the Lego brand tightly controlled. This is the opposite of what International Standards Organizations attempt to do.

  • Bernadette (with a help from her 14 year old son Aidan) described the humble URI it equivalent to the Lego "Automatic Binding Bricks" and tight tolerance to get the famously satisfying "click" sound.
    • Lego model of a functional government and society based on interoperability of data, [6].
    • Lego model of castle turret with mini figs from different sets who work together cooperatively as an effective force, [7].
    • "If everybody cooperates and shoots in the same direction, it's an unstoppable force"
    • So unlike Lego, as long as the pieces share common interface (the humble URI), they can be made to fit together. It is not without some work, but the simplicity and exactness of the Lego 'click' is very powerful, just like Linked Data. [8]
  • John Erickson: Lego is investing in community, and following community. Fostering open source via Mindstorm.
    • LoD needs to grow and foster community.
    • If Lego was just separate things. it wouldn't be as cool.
    • Fitting it together things new ways is to cool stuff.
    • Building communities are important to Lego. Communities share with the world to promote their objectives. GLD needs similar community building force.
    • If all Lego was a bunch of special interest components, it wouldn't have penetrated the imagination of children & adults globally (I paraphrase). In the Gov't Linked Data world, it is important to capture the imagination (evangelize).