Wednesday, May 14, 2008

From Dublin Core to the Semantic Web

I've just published a piece in the Semantic Report titled, The Semantics of the the Dublin Core – Metadata for Knowledge Management. It's an experimental piece about the potential for applying principles from the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative for the SemWeb. In a previous article about half a year ago, Dean and I had proposed that the library catalogue could be used as a blueprint for the Semantic Web. Perhaps theoretical and conceptual, the arguments fleshed out the ideas, but not the practical applications. In this latest article, I wanted to outline in greater detail how exactly developments in library and information science are playing out, not only in the SemWeb, but for knowledge management in general.

Can the DCMI provide the infrastructure for the SemWeb? It could. Or it could not. Some have gone as far as saying that the Dublin Core is dead. But I'm not going to add more to that discourse. What I wanted to do was find apparently disparate entities: B2B, the Dublin Core, and the SemWeb, and tie them together using principles of knowledge organization in the form of the DCMI. Blasphemous? Perhaps.

My point in the article isn't to create something out of nothing. The purpose is to extend the idea that knowledge management for librarians and information science is nothing new. In 2002, two years before Tim O'Reilly's coining of the term, "Web 2.0," librarian Katherine Adams had already argued that librarians will be an essential piece to the SemWeb equation. Her seminal piece, The Semantic Web: Differentiating between Taxonomies and Ontologies, Adams argues that ontologies and taxonomies are synonymous - computer scientists refer to hierarchies of structured vocabularies as "ontology" while librarians call them "taxonomy." What the Dublin Core offers is an opportunity to bridge together different topics and extend across disciplines to navigate the complexities of the SemWeb. Fodder for discussion. But good fodder nonetheless I hope.

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