[tdwg-tag] [BULK] TDWG ontology revisited ... a newcomer's perspective

Roderic Page r.page at bio.gla.ac.uk
Thu May 14 18:47:40 CEST 2009

Gregor somewhat overstates my mastery of Semantic Mediawiki (SMW), but  
it is a useful tool to play with these ideas. You can embed RDF  
vocabularies, and display these for the propellor heads like us (who  
get an unnatural degree of pleasure from this sort of thing), or hide  
them behind nice forms for entering and editing data.

For example, here's an example:


This is a paper that describes some Australian nematodes, and the page  
is linked to the paper's author, the journal, and the taxonomic names.

One thing advantage that SMW has that I think is very cool is that,  
because of its templates, you can effectively program it by writing  
wiki pages (unlike a CMS such as Drupal, where you have to hack the  
underlying code). This makes it very powerful, as well as easy to  
document (each vocabulary element has a wiki page, where you can  
specify what it means).

So, two thoughts:

1. I've been arguing recently that decent progress in the field  
requires massive aggregation coupled with good tools for editing.  
Editing requires version control. We also need to be open to users  
creating unexpected content/annotations. We also want to have a tool  
that can make inferences (i.e., the sort of thing databases make  

To my mind, once you think of open-ended, versioned editing, you are  
thinking of a wiki.

2. I doubt the OWL inference/reasoning stuff will ever fly on the  
scale we need. Keep stuff very simple. We can gain a great deal simply  
from joining the dots.



On 14 May 2009, at 10:19, Gregor Hagedorn wrote:

> Greg wrote:
>> priority. Somewhere between Roger's lsid vocabularies and the MRTG
>> schema page there must be a way to achieve this.
>> Is Semantic-mediawiki an option?
> :-) :-) :-)
> I should say the MRTG stuff is a very pragmatic way to go beyond  
> Word or Excel.
> With some effort, you can give each class, each property a page. In
> Semantic Media Wiki this make sense, since the corresponding RDF is
> directly exposed. You would then have to make overview pages (bringing
> the separate pages into a synthesis view). I know how to do this with
> the DPL extension, but it is very laborious which is why we did not
> use it in MRTG. I guess SMW has good tools, but while I master
> mediawiki, I don't master SMW yet. Roderic Page does though :-)
> Gregor
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Roderic Page
Professor of Taxonomy
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