[tdwg-content] Update on the TDWG RDF task group

joel sachs jsachs at csee.umbc.edu
Mon Oct 22 21:09:15 CEST 2012

Hi Everyone,

Since neither Steve nor I are at TDWG this year, we wanted to give an 
update on the efforts of the RDF Best Practices task group. Below is a 
run-down on activities, and also some opportunities for getting involved:

0. Background
We were chartered last October under the Technical Architecture Group to 
document the advantages and disadvantages of various ways in which RDF and 
related technologies are being applied to TDWG standards. Details are at: 

Issues we are currently tracking are at: 
http://code.google.com/p/tdwg-rdf/issues/list (Not all issues are being 
worked on actively.)

The core members of the team are listed at: 

If you are at TDWG this week, and have a question about RDF and TDWG, please relate it to one of 
the core members over beer. Core members: please answer as you see fit, 
and report back to the group.

i. Beginner's Guide to RDF
Steve has written a comprehensive guide, based on extensive examples from 
the wild, and with many references. Time and effort spent reading this 
guide will be rewarded with an excellent understanding of RDF and its 
related technology.

ii. Google group.
Steve and I both think that valuable distinctions and insights have 
surfaced in group discussions. Consensus has been rare, and 
alternative ways of doing things are documented in the archives. We plan on 
summarizing some of these discussions, and posting the summaries on the 
wiki. We may delegate some of this, and would be happy to see people 
volunteer to take on summarizing a thread.

iii. Competency questions.
We continue to collect competency questions at
A competency question is used to help define both the structure and the 
content of a knowledge base capable of supporting specific use cases. 
Please share your competency questions for the knowledge base known as 
"the semantic web for biodiversity informatics".

iv. Use case repository.
In preparation for the Kansas workshop [1] that John Deck organized in 
May, use cases were contributed and collected here:  http://bit.ly/Lb0A4C
That page is being preserved as an artifact of the meeting, and is now 
closed to editing. We've copied the use cases to

Note that the term "use case" is used loosely here, as items on the list 
were meant as entry points to discussion at the workshop. Everyone is 
invited to add questions and comments to existing items, and to add new 

Would someone like to tag or categorize these?
Would someone like to map these to the the Issue Tracker?

v. Class inventory
Is there a class you use or need that's not listed? Please add it.

vi. Sandboxes
See http://lists.tdwg.org/pipermail/tdwg-content/2011-December/002829.html

vii. Data inventory
This is a stub.  See 

Moving forward:
i. Like all TDWG groups, we exist to serve the community. Feel free to 
share thoughts via email to me (jsachs at csee.umbc.edu) and Steve 
(steve.baskauf at vanderbilt.edu), or (preferably) to everyone. Let Steve 
know if you want to be added to the Task Group email discussion list.

ii. Our goal remains the documentation of usage in the wild, coupled with 
discussion and, where consensus exists, recommendations. As noted above, 
summarizing recent discussions on the Google Group will be a part of that.

iii. A number of more ambitious tasks have been proposed. For example, one 
of the follow-on activities from the Kansas workshop was creating a data 
testbed to be used for evaluating competing ontological approaches 
(http://bit.ly/JcAcKK). Who would like to be involved in taking this 

iv. Other potential activities were identified in Kansas 
(http://bit.ly/Jzw0E9) and last year in New Orleans 
(http://code.google.com/p/tdwg-rdf/wiki/TDWG2012MtgNotes). More workshops 
may be useful.  Do we have volunteers to host?

v. Steve Baskauf, John Deck, and John Wieczorek (of the Darwin Core Task 
Group) have volunteered to draft an RDF Guide for Darwin Core similar to 
the existing XML and Text Guides.  This guide would provide guidance to 
providers who would like to expose their existing metadata as RDF.  It is 
NOT an attempt to turn Darwin Core into an ontology nor to resolve 
outstanding issues related to relationships among classes within and 
outside of Darwin Core.  See
for more details.

Questions and comments are welcome -

1. http://biocodecommons.org/workshops/sob.html

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