[tdwg-content] assertions in DwC terms
hlapp at duke.edu
Sat Jun 6 16:48:48 CEST 2009
On Jun 5, 2009, at 9:20 PM, John R. WIECZOREK wrote:
> [...] The first s organization of the standard. The domains help
> organize the properties in ways that help people to understand their
> meaning and purpose.
That's a worthwhile goal but isn't that using the wrong means? I.e.,
specifying the domain is telling something - and in an unambiguous
manner - to machines, not humans.
You can of course create user interfaces or renderings that turns the
domain specification into something meaningful to humans, too. But you
could use any term property for that, couldn't you? I.e., you could
use a property that doesn't imply specific and possibly far reaching
machine inferences. (I haven't had time to check yet but I suspect
that there are - W3C or not - conventions for how to add human-
targeted class and property annotations to vocabularies.)
(BTW for comparison purposes, note that DC doesn't assert any domain
or range for any of its terms, allowing the broadest possible use.)
> [...] The second reason for the domain assignments is that we lack a
> formal ontology, and this is an attempt to have one to govern at
> least the terms within this standard.
I'd argue that it's worth distinguishing between a metadata vocabulary
and a formal ontology, and that having one product try to be both may
limit its ability to fully satisfy both.
A standard metadata vocabulary with the primary purpose that we all
call the same thing by the same name is broadly useful and can help
enormously with data integration across fields as diverse as genetics,
genomics, systematics, ecology, and taxonomy (and more, as we heard in
London). A formal ontology that supports inferences over integrated
data is also highly useful, but not necessarily at the same breadth.
> What is the potentially problematic future case of asserting that a
> specimen is an dwcterms:Occurrence? It is one.
My example was indeed a weak one, as we are indeed referencing
specimens. For example, I couldn't use dwcterms:collectionCode to
assert a code for a museum collection, because it would imply that the
collection is an dwcterms:Occurrence.
Maybe you don't want people to use DwCTerms for anything else other
than describing specimen records, but I'd argue that without such
limitations the standard could become much more broadly useful.
As a comparison, dc:creator and dc:title are meanwhile being used in
vastly more contexts than the original authors of DC had probably
imagined. I'm not sure this would have also happened if applying
dc:title implied specific assertions about the nature of what it is
being applied to.
Just my $0.02.
: Hilmar Lapp -:- Durham, NC -:- hlapp at duke dot edu :
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