[tdwg-tag] Embedding specimen (and other) annotations in NeXML [SEC=UNCLASSIFIED]

greg whitbread ghw at anbg.gov.au
Tue Feb 24 14:47:28 CET 2009


2009/2/24 Roger Hyam <rogerhyam at mac.com>:
wrote ...
> I believe the way forward is with small, modular ontologies that have
> as little entailment in them as possible - ideal for importing into
> larger ontologies without blowing them up. There seems to be a
> modeling approach which considers  upper classes the most important. I
> believe the class hierarchy is actually only part of the ontology. It
> is perfectly possible to define functional classes first, standardize
> them and then import them into other ontologies that assert the class
> hierarchies. In fact this is the only way you can have shared
> semantics where we agree on an object but it has a different place in
> your world to the place it has in my world. The alternative is to get
> everyone to see the world from a single view of reality and the only
> way to do that is to pay them lots of money to see it that way!
> We need versioning and standardization of constructs at a very fine
> grained level - even individual property level. If we don't take this
> approach nothing will be standardized till we agree on everything i.e.
> never.

I also happen to believe that we have no alternative other than to
adopt this approach.  It has worked well for us in the past.

We simply can not afford to continue propagating schema that do not
build upon a standardized core of common elements.

Our current crop of endorsed and proposed standards are more
application schema than standards. For the most part they have little
relevance outside of the communities promoting them and their adoption
is rarely achievable without compromise or modification? We are still
quite happily using HISPID because it constrains content to suit our
purpose in a way that ABCD and DwC can not.

We are about to experiment with a wiki based, one per page, approach
to collaboratively working through this real core of "fine grained"
concepts for species profiles. Page trees will be used to represent
alternative classifications or higher level groupings. A full on
ontological thread to follow this up will still be necessary but
starting from here (again) we need to be as open and accessible as
possible.  The formal ontology will document outcomes rather than
driving them.  I suggest that we try the same approach at the TDWG
level. We may be surprised.

My group's current efforts to develop services (SOAP, TAPIR, etc)
delivering TCS and profiles from disparate  data sources through an
intermediate repository based on the TDWG vocabularies, including
TaxonName and TaxonConcept,  demonstrate that even this stuff is still
coarser than it needs be to be really useful.  I should be able to
apply them without compromising requirements or precluding our ability
to participate freely  in communities using orthogonal schema.


Greg Whitbread
Australian National Botanic Gardens
Australian National Herbarium
+61 2 62509482
ghw at anbg.gov.au

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