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Keywords:

  • database;
  • industrial ecology;
  • information and communication technology (ICT);
  • Internet;
  • knowledge management;
  • Semantic Web;
  • wiki

Summary

Industrial ecology (IE) is an ambitious field of study where we seek to understand systems using a wide perspective ranging from the scale of molecules to that of the planet. Achieving such a holistic view is challenging and requires collecting, processing, curating, and sharing immense amounts of data and knowledge.

We are not capable of fully achieving this due to the current state of tools used in IE and current community practices. Although we deal with a vastly interconnected world, we are not so good at efficiently interconnecting what we learn about it. This is not a problem unique to IE, and other fields have begun to use tools supported by the World Wide Web to meet these challenges.

We discuss these sets of tools and illustrate how community driven data collection, processing, curation, and sharing is allowing people to achieve more than ever before. In particular, we discuss standards that have been created to allow for interlinking of data dispersed across multiple Web sites. This is currently visible in the Linking Open Data initiative, which among others contains interlinked datasets from the U.S. and U.K. governments, biology databases, and Wikipedia. Since the types of technologies and standards involved are outside the normal scope of work by many industrial ecologists, we attempt to explain the relevance, implications, and benefits through a discussion of many real examples currently on the Web.

From these, we discuss several best practices, which can be enabling factors for how IE and the community can more efficiently and effectively meet its ambitions—an agenda for Industrial Ecology 2.0.