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DC-SCIENCE  June 2009

DC-SCIENCE June 2009

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Subject:

Excellent article at Nodalities (fwd)

From:

Jane Greenberg <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

DCMI Science and Metadata Community <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 1 Jun 2009 02:09:07 -0400

Content-Type:

MULTIPART/MIXED

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

TEXT/PLAIN (58 lines)


greetings,
 	this recent post below on "Linking Data and Semantics at OReilly" 
in Nodalities may of interest to some DC-SAM (sci.&metadata folks), thanks 
to Jon Phipps!  (apologies for the cross posting for folks on DC-General.)

best wishes, jane

---------- Forwarded message ---------- Date: Sat, 30 May 2009 19:38:01 
-0400 From: Jon Phipps <[log in to unmask]> To: 
[log in to unmask] Subject: Excellent article at Nodalities

http://blogs.talis.com/nodalities/2009/05/linking-data-and-semantics-at-oreilly.php

At Talis' Nodalities, Gavin Carothers and Charles Greer describe the 
process that O'Reilly went through to discover that they (surprise!) 
needed to use Dublin Core, and express their metadata in RDF. A brief 
excerpt to give you the flavor...

"... In the process of trying to create an XML format we asked a number of 
people in the company how to find the Publication Date for a book. The 
answer was surprisingly complex. The value was computed independently by 
each of the ETL hydras, with subtly different implementations that had 
evolved with particular client needs. O’Reilly isn’t a huge company with 
layer upon layer of bureaucracy; most questions can be quickly answered 
with a chat at a desk or an email to the other coast. Imagine our 
surprise, then, at the results of the Publication Date poll. Most people 
were confident that one of five dates was the right date, but disagreed on 
which of the five it was. Retail Availability Date, Actual In Stock Date, 
Estimated In Stock Date, etc each had its backers. What was really going 
on was that we discovered the subtle different needs that each business 
unit had.  The strategy we could most easily support?  Concensus on a 
public standard.  As we’ve learned so many times, we needed to go outside 
the company to find the correct solution. Public standards, 
specifications, and ontologies could save us from ourselves.

Enter: Dublin Core. We couldn’t define our own format or use the industry 
standard (ONIX), nor could we agree on what a publication date was. Our 
only choice was go borrow/steal some other group’s ideas. It turns out 
that our problems had already been solved by the library community. The 
Dublin Core Metadata Initiative created standards, guidelines, and 
examples for storing and sharing basic, essential metadata. We had a way 
out, here was a group of people who’d already done a great deal of 
thinking for us.

Of course, they hadn’t done all our thinking for us. Mapping all of our 
old data into well-designed and well-documented Dublin Core, MARC 
Relators, FOAF, or any other ontology was going to be hard. So we didn’t 
do it. Instead we mapped the whole of our old, horrible, ugly mess into an 
undefined ontology called the “Product Database Legacy Ontology.” We then 
moved some of the more obvious items like title and author into Dublin 
Core and waited. Only once we had a proven need for a new data point in 
real application would we go though the process of researching, defining, 
cleaning, and moving it into a modern, public ontology. For those 
following along closely: no, trim color isn’t yet in the public or 
internal metadata. As it turns out, no one really wanted it. At least, not 
yet. ..."

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