Jeff Beall reposts some of the discussion on the MODS mailing list on the recently published draft of MADS/RDF. Beall wonders if the proposal, and the initial comments indicate that the entire semantic web effort is doomed. This may be an over-reaction.
I spent some time working on a formal analysis of the semantics of pre-combined/subdivided subject headings, and how they could be added in a downwards compatible way to SKOS. I had hoped to discuss the topic at the DC VOCAMP held at The Library immediately after ISWC 2009, but there was no-one at the camp who was interested in library vocabularies, I let the matter drop.
Since support for pre-combined headings are one of the major design goals of MADS/RDF, I have been looking quite closely at the initial draft. I am not yet ready to publish detailed results, but I wanted to take this chance to make a few quick notes on the initial draft.
There is a quick change that could make it easier for others to evaluate the proposed ontology. Currently, the URI/IRI of the ontology is “http://id.loc.gov/ontologies/mads/2010/11″. At the moment does not resolve as a URL. Also, the name is slightly different from current usual practice. Ontology URIs are typically of the form …/<Year>/<Month>/<Name>; the MADS IRI is in the form …/<Name>/<Year>/<Month>. This encourages some common tools, such as Protege, to abbreviate the ontology name as “11″.
The SKOS mappings are imported as part of the reference ontology; however due to problems in naming, this may not show up correctly. It might be better to include the axioms in the mapping file directly in the main ontology.
The SKOS mappings are incomplete; it is possible that concentrating on narrowing the differences between SKOS and Standard(NISO Z39.19)/Library KOS semantics would give an end result that should be more useful for use by The Library.
The current draft was created without support from an ontologist or owl expert. There are several problems in the modeling that result from this lack of resourcing. For example, there are several places where a constraint or restriction is given in a comment that could readily have been represented in OWL, and many properties are not fully or properly specified. There is a big difference between the ontology design and schema design, and without support resources, it is easy to fall in to some common anti-patterns.
The current draft was created without ready access to Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) in the Cataloging COI. As a result, the ontology may not adequately represent the problem domain, and may make it harder to extend so as to support LC rules and policy on subject heading formation. When modeling any complex area, regular interaction with relevant SMEs is essential throughout the process, both for knowledge elicitation and model validation. Early, regular review of the ongoing work by MODS/MADS Editorial Committee may be helpful.
The current draft does not define the semantics of pre-combined headings; there are different possible interpretations, but none are discussed, and some inferences appear to be common across all readings.
 Following Soergel, I prefer this term to “Pre-coordinated”
 I also worked on relating the to the implied ontologies inferable from Knowledge Organization Systems that used sub-types of BT relationship (BTG, etc) that are part of the international standards, and which were originally included in SKOS, but which were moved to an extension , then finally dropped and relegated to examples in the published recommendation.
Now that registration is open, you may be thinking about attending this year’s ADHO Digital Humanities Conference, DH2010, which will be
hosted at King’s College London by the Centre for Computing in the Humanities and the Centre for e-Research, with the support of the School of Arts and Humanities, Information Services and Systems, and the Principal, Professor Rick Trainor.
Translation party uses the Google Translate API to turn Machine Assisted Translation abuse into a one-click spectator sport.
They automagically translate an phrase from English to Japanese and back again until they reach an equilibrium, or decide that they’ve tried enough (sometimes they give up prematurely, but you can only beat a dead horse for so long (or as they would say “Only between the wild-goose chase“.
Sometimes, however, Translaton party discovers makes some remarkable discoveries.
Whilst checking up on some of the character set fixes, I’ve noticed that there seem to be some inconsistencies in the use of right quotes, apostrophes, and accute accents, which may lead to problems down the road when doing searches, or performing name authority work.
Here are some examples that may make things clearer.
Use of a right single quote as an accute accent.
In allRecords/ArchivalDescriptions/68/FileUnit_744305.xml we find the following title:
<title>Navarro, Jose’ Antonio</title>
There are several ways to represent é in UNICODE; composed, decompsed, or as an e followed by a non-combining accent (U+00B4); none of these approaches will match this title string.
Commercial value not relevant in deciding whether copyright exists
(20)(8) … Copyright is not given to reward work distinct from the production of a particular form of expression: IceTV  HCA 14; 254 ALR 386 at  and . Accordingly, it is “unhelpful to refer to the ‘commercial value’ of the information, because that directs attention to the information itself rather than to the particular form of expression”: IceTV  HCA 14; 254 ALR 386 at  and .
Application of rules, no matter how skillfully is not enough to obtain copyright
Section (C) (6) seems especially applicable to some mistaken claims of copyright in bibliographic records; as in Batlin v. Snyder, <<the requirement of originality [cannot] be satisfied simply by the demonstration of “physical skill” or “special training”>>
(162) As the evidence shows, the person or persons who utilise the Rules and who, therefore, are submitted by the Applicants to be authors of the Works, do not exercise either “independent intellectual effort” or “sufficient effort of a literary nature” to be considered an author within the meaning of the Copyright Act.
(163) First, it is the Rules that prescribe the particular form of expression of the Works, not any individual person alone or in collaboration with others. The Rules control the content of each Work. The various computer systems generate and control the choice of the content on the basis of the Rules and are responsible for ensuring the vast majority of their valid application. In some circumstances the Rules expressly prohibit certain content.
(164) Secondly, even where there is any level of human “discretion”, it must be exercised in accordance with the Rules. There is no independent effort, let alone such effort being intellectual. There is no effort, let alone sufficient effort, of a literary nature. I reject the Applicants’ contention that there is judgment or discretion used in selecting the material for inclusion. The Rules prescribe, presume and prohibit the actions of the contributors. What choice there is, is the choice given by the Rules, not by any person or persons.
(165)Thirdly, even if the judgment or discretion of the kind asserted by the Applicants was “independent intellectual effort”, it is not relevant intellectual effort. I reject the Applicants’ contention that the relevant intellectual effort involved is in understanding and applying the Rules. The “independent intellectual effort” required must be directed to the creation of the Work: IceTV HCA 14; 254 ALR 386 at . Such skill and judgment, on the facts, is not directed to the creation of each Work but to the application of the Rules. Moreover, the “work” undertaken by many of the Sensis workers, is work directed (at least in part) to the maintenance and operation of the Genesis Computer System and associated computer systems (including the Genesis database) which is accessed or used for a multitude of applications.
(166) Finally, even if it mattered, there is insufficient evidence about who created the Rules themselves. The Rules alone cannot be said to be an author for the purposes of the Copyright Act.
I’m happy to announce the availability of the new Tyler Hansbrough Special Edition of the NARA Archival Research Catalog. This special edition has fixes for the character set encoding problems noted below. These problems were being caused by problems in the UTF-8 encoding of various single and double quotes, and en- and em- dashes, resulting in unparsable XML documents.
There are a number of problems in the ARC data files that are caused by truncation of 16 bit unicode punctuation to 8-bits. There may be other undetected truncation errors where the truncated value is a legitimate UTF character, but this seems unlikely.
I have written code to work around this problem; it’s a fairly simple fix.
There are also about a dozen records that are ill-formed- the contain tags generated by an Oracle xml sql engine.
Scary thought for the day:
Imagine if Oracle made an ILS
Unfortunately, when I say bulk contents, I mean bulk contents; the current distribution contains nearly 20GB of raw data; the Organizational authority file adds another 1.7GB.
Since XML was deliberately designed for redundancy, XML encoded data sets are usually rather compressible. These data are no exception; bzip2 on the ARC data set achieves compression rations between 40:1 and 50:1. The 7-zip format does even better, but is not considered archival.
The real credit for this work belongs to the good people at NARA and their contributing agencies (and viewers like you). Don’t forget to visit the original pages on data.gov to give comments and feedback on this data, and don’t forget to show off all the cool UIs you build on top of this.
Mark Matienzo, (now a Yalie as of Monday), Richard Urban, GSLIS, University of Illinois,and Simon Spero, SILS, University of North Carolina have prepared a compressed distribution of these data sets, allowing much more efficient access to the data.
One interesting datum that emerged during the compression process is that the compressed size of Part1 is nearly twice as large as most of the other Parts, despite having the same raw size. There are several possible explanations for this:
H1: The records in Part1 are more complete than in other files.
H2: Part1 describes record series from less related agencies than other files.
H3: Part1 contains records with less compressible data (image types, numeric data, etc).
H4: Part1 contains more, smaller, record series than other files.
If only had a time machine, I could do a poster and go to the iConference. Alas, all I have is the scarf and the Jelly babies, and I’ve eaten the Jelly babies.