In the wake of our respected competitor, Talis, retiring from the general Linked Data software and consulting market, I thought it would be a good time to explain how we perceive the market, and position ourselves at Swirrl.

Over the last couple of years, we’ve found a slow but steady increase in demand for Linked Data hosting, consulting, and bespoke software development, which we’ve served by building our PublishMyData platform and selling related services. By bootstrapping our business and calling on our network of trusted freelancers to help meet bumps in workload, we’ve been able to ride the wave of demand at what we feel is the right pace. With each additional project, we’re able to improve our product, adding value for our customers and data users, and at the same time, making the process more efficient for us.

Despite being proud Linked Open Data advocates at Swirrl, we firmly believe in giving people what they actually need and want. This means not forcing any particular standard or technology on users or customers, or assuming every problem is a nail for our RDF hammers. For us, this means judicious use of standards where appropriate, while recognising that not everyone are SPARQL and RDF nerds like us – these skills are definitely not mainstream yet – although we have experienced an encouraging willingness to learn at nearly every turn.

But it’s not all about the technology. I personally think that one of the reasons for Linked Data not permeating through to popular Web-consciousness is that mature user interface patterns don’t yet exist for describing and navigating the kinds of multi-dimensional data that RDF modelling produces. The tech is relatively simple; the hard parts are understanding your client’s problem-domain, and creating an effective and pleasant user experience for the various audiences for the data. This is by no means a solved problem, but we think we’re already going a pretty good job of making the data accessible, and we’re constantly trying to improve in this area.

I’m happy to say that we’ve been turning a modest but healthy profit from our Linked Data activities and that gives us confidence to keep investing. We’re currently busy working on several Linked Data projects, and have a few more prospects in the pipeline. For now we have the capacity to match our workload, but we expect to need more freelance or permanent help in the future. If you’re a passionate LoD geek who’d like to work with us, we’d love to hear from you.

Organisations interested in our Linked Data consulting, hosting or development services, should check out our PublishMyData site for more details. You can get in touch by emailing hello@swirrl.com (other ways of contacting us are listed on our company website).

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