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Archive for March, 2007

A Framework for the (Bibliographic) Future

Posted in Uncategorized on March 13th, 2007 by darcusb – Comments Off

William Denton has a link to draft of a Framework for a Bibliographic Future. I don’t have time to read it, much less comment on it, in depth, but just wanted to pick out a few places that raise some concerns.

First:

Metadata schemas (sometimes called ‘element sets,’ ‘metadata formats’ or ‘data dictionaries’) define the actual properties that will carry values in the data set, as well as the relationships between those properties. Data elements can be defined at any relevant level of granularity. They can have hierarchical relationships between them or non-hierarchical relationships.

The problem I read into this is that this is bound to an XML view of the world. The language of hierarchy is just that kind of view, and it excludes the more flexible relational and graph-based views of relational databases and RDF. So in any case, I suggest purging the draft of any suggestion that a tree-based XML model ought to be in any way privileged.

The second follows just after:

FRBR defines data elements in its attributes, but they must be restructured in a way that allows the development of different levels of granularity and that promotes extensibility of the schema, both over time and across communities.

… and:

Crucial to the proper development of a metadata schema is a clear notion of requirements for technical expression of the attributes, and a plan for maintenance and growth. We have learned much in the library community about the importance of community consensus and how to maintain important standards over time.

So the group wants a clean but extensible model that can be serialized in different ways, and integrated with backend systems I presume. They claim the need for “community consensus” that seems to suggest a requirement for centralized development and management.

While the first makes a lot of sense, the second seems more a consequence of limited technologies than a formal requirement. In fact, this is a major problem with MARC, MODS, MARCXML, MADS, etc. Wouldn’t it, for example, make much sense to have a framework that could evolve in a distributed way; where different organizations and communities could extend it as needed without need for wider consensus?

I’m going to repeat my mantra here: look at RDF. It provides the common and extensible model you want here, in ways that are relatively more friendly than generic XML to the relational databases so widely in use. It also can map fairly cleanly to object oriented programming. Finally, RDF also notably does not require the kind of centralized development and management suggested above.

ODF 2.0 and OOXML

Posted in Uncategorized on March 12th, 2007 by darcusb – Comments Off

In comments to a post on an interesting interview with former Massachusetts IT official Louis Gutierrez, Kurt Cagle offers some sensible advice to Microsoft:

If Microsoft really wants to put together a superior product, then it should participate in the ODF standard for a 2.0 version that moves a little closer to its own perceived needs, recognize that their monopoly isn’t going to last much longer anyway if they are at a stage where they are losing customers because of their own inability to work with them on something as basic as interoperability, and compete on quality. I don’t think anyone - the ODF TC, the ISO standards committees, the customers - would seriously have any problem with that, and it would show that Microsoft recognizes that the world has moved away from where it was in 1997.

I see this idea to bring ODF and OOXML closer in line floated in some future ODF spec more and more, and it seems quite a sensible way forward. I would certainly welcome it, and while I cannot speak for the rest of the ODF TC, I wouldn’t be surprised if they felt likewise.

Joost and TripleSoup

Posted in Uncategorized on March 12th, 2007 by darcusb – Comments Off

Danny Ayers notes a really interesting new effort at the Apache Foundation called TripleSoup. It seems the idea is a easy-to-deploy complete RDF kit that can be integrated with Apache server environments. What’s even more interesting is the people and projects involved: Dave Beckett (from Redland; now works for Yahoo), Stefano Mazzocchi (from MIT’s SIMILE project), and Joost (more on that here and here). I’ll be watching this one.