[tdwg-content] Idea for Discussion, Differentiating between "type's" of identifiers

Markus Döring m.doering at mac.com
Wed Oct 6 10:18:22 CEST 2010

Steve, Pete,

Id like to draw your attention on a basic DarwinCore design pattern. Dwc has the goal of being technology independent by simply providing a list of abstract terms one can use in various arenas such as xml, rdf, xhtml, csv etc. And even within those there might be various ways of using them (e.g. we have a normalised and a simple flat xml schema), thats why we should have a guideline for each of them on how to use them. We are missing such a guideline for rdf currently, hence this debate.

Whether scientificName is a literal string or some complex object shouldnt matter - its defined to be a scientific name. Such a dwc rdf property could either hold a literal string or a url to some name rdf:resource (potentially with a rdfs:label).

With the introduction if many ID terms we have diluted that idea a little already in my mind. We could have as well used scientificName in xml to hold some identifier for that name. All URNs tell you what they are by their urn prefix (not necessarily how to resolve them), so you can easily detect a UUID, LSID, http(s) url, ftp, doi and apply the conventional resolution mechanism. The hardest problem are the local ids and other plain identifers. For those mainly we created the ID terms (at least in my mind). I am feeling rather uncomfortable discussing the introduction of specific dwc terms for each type of id. Maybe we should remove all id terms in dwc and use the specific guidelines to specify these? At least if you really think having all those id terms for rdf is a good thing I would feel much more comfortable going down this route instead of diluting dwc by adding more and more rather redundant terms. The abstract concept is key to a dwc term, not the actual data type for
 ced by the technology you are using it with. Would you want several date terms for various date formats? In fact we do that already to some degree (eventDate, eventTime, year, month, day, verbatimEventDate) and I always felt this is not a good idea. There are also a number of verbatimXXX terms in dwc which also contradict this pattern. 

Talking about new dwc terms - in the examples given properties like "hasScientificName" is not strictly the correct dwc term, which is simply scientificName. I think it would be fine to have the convention in the rdf guidlines to use hasDwcTerm instead of dwcTerm, this is exactly what an rdf guideline is for. On the flip side I am sure this only applies to some terms, recordBy for example is likely to remain as it is. Its unclear to me what is best to do really. Always stick to the original dwc terms? Refine them through some rdfs or owl schema and define the relation to the original term? Should we still use the same namespace in this case?

As an rdf beginner even after a few years exposed I wonder if we cant simply stick to the non ID terms and use them either as literals or with a uri pointer. As in the rdf world a resolvable http is really required for resource relations to work, why not simply mandate this in the guidelines? If you only happen to have non resolvable uris like lsid or dois the guidelines should be asking you to use proxied versions, knowing it will break rdf frameworks and lod conventions otherwise. On the resolving side one could always include such urns with owl:sameAs (or sth alike) I believe. But how many non resolvable ids with no matching http counterpart are really out there yet?

- Markus

On Oct 6, 2010, at 9:02, Peter DeVries wrote:

> Hi Steve,
> You are probably right that it might be best to use rdfs:Label, but I am thinking we might be able to get the same
> result my defining the string variants as subproperties of rdfs:Label.
> This would make them an rdfs:Label but a special kind of rdfs:Label.
> This is one of those things that I would test with Sindice and URIburner to see if they interpret these correctly.
> This would require a live vocabulary that Sindice could look at to determine that hasScientificName is to be
> treated as a  rdfs:Label.
> - Pete
> On Mon, Oct 4, 2010 at 10:41 AM, Steve Baskauf <steve.baskauf at vanderbilt.edu> wrote:
> Although this specific example deals with taxonomic name identifiers, it is related to a previous discussion on this list about how we should use the dwc:xxxxxID terms and other terms (such as recordedBy and identifiedBy) that could have either a string (literal) or URI form.  Although I don't really want to see an unnecessary proliferation of Darwin Core terms, I think that in the interest of clarity (particularly where RDF is involved) there either should be multiple terms that make it clear what form of identifier is expected, or else there should be an understanding that in RDF the default for such a term is a URI which would then have an rdfs:Label property which was the string form.  I think the former would be preferable to the latter.  
> I came to this opinion when trying to write RDF describing an herbarium specimen.  The collector should be the dwc:recordedBy property of the specimen.  Optimally, there would be a database in which known collectors were assigned URIs so that "Glen N. Montz", "Glen Montz", "G. N. Montz", etc. would all be different labels for the same resource.  However, realistically, I'm not going to drop what I'm doing to set up such a database (even if I were capable of doing it, which I'm not).  So I ended up just writing it as <dwc:recordedBy>Glen N. Montz</dwc:recordedBy> even though I knew it wasn't probably the best thing.  In a large Occurrence database that was compiled from the RDF created by a lot of people, there might end up being a mixture of strings and URIs for dwc:recordedBy properties of the specimens.  It seems to me like it would be better to have properties like dwc:recordedBy for strings and dwc:recordedByURI for a corresponding URI (and I suppose dwc:recordedByLSID 
 if anyone wants to use it).  Of course, this would require a number of term additions to DwC and clarification in the DwC documentation that the generic version was intended for strings.  
> With respect to the example
> <dwc:hasScientificNameLSID rdf:resource="urn:lsid:catalogueoflife.org:taxon:24e7d624-60a7-102d-be47-00304854f810:ac2010"/>
> I think you are right that (with the possible exception of rdfs:seeAlso) there is an expectation that an rdf:resource attribute will be a resolvable URI that produces RDF.  So 
> <dwc:hasScientificNameLSID>urn:lsid:catalogueoflife.org:taxon:24e7d624-60a7-102d-be47-00304854f810:ac2010</dwc:hasScientificNameLSID>
> is probably better.
> Steve
> Peter DeVries wrote:
>> I have been thinking about the following pattern. In part after looking at the GBIF vocabulary.
>> I am not sure if it is even a good idea but might be worth some discussion.
>> For those fields that have both a string and "ID" form maybe the following pattern might be useful
>> hasScientificName = string form
>> hasScientificNameURI = Resolvable LOD compliant identifier
>> hasScientificNameLSID = LSID identifier which could be resolvable once you add the "http:proxy" etc.
>> This allows all three forms to be included if desired, it also provides a hint as to how the field should be interpreted or resolved.
>> One group could also provide a mapping service so that each record does not need to include all three forms, but would allow systems
>> to find the matching LSID for a given URI or vs. versa.
>> My concern was that it would be difficult to infer how a scientificNameID should be interpreted by other systems.
>> Is this an LSD, is it a URI, is it a UUID etc. ?
>> This impacts the structure of the RDF.
>> * Note that the actual identifiers might not be correct, the example below is more about the form of the RDF
>> * For instance, I don't think it is probably correct to see the COL LSID as just a namestring
>> * Also in this example the GNI name does not exactly match the string name
>> <dwc:hasScientificName>Puma concolor (Linnaeus 1771)</dwc:hasScientificName>
>> <dwc:hasScientificNameURI rdf:resource="http://gni.globalnames.org/name_strings/6c3dc35f-d901-5cc5-b9c8-ad241069b9f8"/>
>> <dwc:hasScientificNameLSID rdf:resource="urn:lsid:catalogueoflife.org:taxon:24e7d624-60a7-102d-be47-00304854f810:ac2010"/>
>> Some system may choke on the LSID form assuming that it uses a standard resolution mechanism
>> So it might be best to use this form
>> <dwc:hasScientificNameLSID>urn:lsid:catalogueoflife.org:taxon:24e7d624-60a7-102d-be47-00304854f810:ac2010</dwc:hasScientificNameLSID>
>> - Pete
>> ----------------------------------------------------------------
>> Pete DeVries
>> Department of Entomology
>> University of Wisconsin - Madison
>> 445 Russell Laboratories
>> 1630 Linden Drive
>> Madison, WI 53706
>> TaxonConcept Knowledge Base / GeoSpecies Knowledge Base
>> About the GeoSpecies Knowledge Base
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
> -- 
> Steven J. Baskauf, Ph.D., Senior Lecturer
> Vanderbilt University Dept. of Biological Sciences
> postal mail address:
> VU Station B 351634
> Nashville, TN  37235-1634,  U.S.A.
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> office: 2128 Stevenson Center
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> http://bioimages.vanderbilt.edu
> -- 
> ----------------------------------------------------------------
> Pete DeVries
> Department of Entomology
> University of Wisconsin - Madison
> 445 Russell Laboratories
> 1630 Linden Drive
> Madison, WI 53706
> TaxonConcept Knowledge Base / GeoSpecies Knowledge Base
> About the GeoSpecies Knowledge Base
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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