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The trajectory of linked data in late capitalism

Erik Radio (University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, Colorado, USA)
James Kalwara (University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, Colorado, USA)

Journal of Documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418

Article publication date: 10 August 2021

Issue publication date: 23 March 2022




The aim of this article is to analyze the trajectory of library linked data in light of the ideological machinations of late capitalism. This is accomplished in order to understand how and why its development currently occupies a place of contradiction and provide avenues for examining how this tension can be resolved.


Our approach relies on the work of Boltanski and Chiapello's “new spirit of capitalism” to understand the rise of the network and situate linked data within that history by examining various technologies, projects and agents involved in its development. We use this history to outline the growth of contradictory tensions within linked data necessitated by capitalistic growth.


Library linked data has found itself in a contradictory position because of the nature of late capitalist expansion, but this development has been facilitated largely by hegemonic agents within libraries and related institutions. We suggest that a counter-hegemonic lens be applied to envisioning linked data's future and its infrastructures.


To our knowledge this article represents one of the first attempts to provide a critique of late capitalist designs on linked data with a particular emphasis on hegemonic control over library technology and infrastructures.



Radio, E. and Kalwara, J. (2022), "The trajectory of linked data in late capitalism", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 78 No. 3, pp. 597-612.



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