Guardian Makes Music and Literary Apps Easier With Linked Data

Sometimes it takes a little human intervention to make semantic applications easier to build. The Guardian newspaper has augmented its Open Platform API with unique identifiers for bands and books. In turn, the company has simplified the process of creating a mashup that uses multiple sources to focus on a single work, which may help its content spread farther.

The introductory post helps explain the process:

We... extended the Guardian's Content API to include non-Guardian identifiers. At the moment, we have populated data for two types of identifiers, ISBNs and MusicBrainz ids.

ISBNs are available chiefly on our book review articles, about 2,800 or so of them as I speak. This is somewhat short of the approximately 17,000 book reviews where we have the potential to include ISBNs, but we are working towards it.

On the music side, about 17,000 items of content and 600 artists have been marked up with identifiers from MusicBrainz. The music metadata service, which also has a MusicBrainz API, contains community-sourced information about artists, albums, labels and tracks.

"The big vision statement inspiring all of this kind of stuff is the idea that we intend to weave the Guardian into the fabric of the Internet," said Matt McAlister, Head of Guardian Developer Network. "This is a tangible manifestation of that idea."

Ripped Records

Since the API also supports MusicBrainz, apps can combine to show data from MusicBrainz, content from the Guardian and stream the artist's music from All this takes it the artist's unique identifier, which Guardian's new linked data API also helps you discover. There are already 15 mashups in our directory, including Ripped Records (shown above).

We also list almost 150 music video mashups, but usually the content is based on a search term. That means when you want Prince music videos, you sometimes get videos of actual princes. By including linked data, you find the right Prince and can easily find similar content from other sources.

Adding this meta-data is a big under-taking and one that continues at the Guardian. The newspaper has found internal uses that make its own projects easier. And thankfully, its sharing its work with developers, toward a better web.

Be sure to read the next News Services article: Q&A With USA Today on Newspaper's API Launch