[tdwg-content] assertions in DwC terms

John R. WIECZOREK tuco at berkeley.edu
Tue Aug 25 00:12:48 CEST 2009

Hilmar et al.,

I have removed class references from the hasDomain attribute of the
Darwin Core terms and added a different attribute (organizedInClass)
with which to organize the terms for human consumption. These changes
will appear when I make the next commit to subversion.

Thanks for the discussion leading to this important change.


On Sat, Jun 6, 2009 at 7:48 AM, Hilmar Lapp<hlapp at duke.edu> wrote:
> 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
> --
> ===========================================================
> : Hilmar Lapp  -:-  Durham, NC  -:- hlapp at duke dot edu :
> ===========================================================

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