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RE: SKOS Core 2nd review

From: Miles, AJ \(Alistair\) <A.J.Miles@rl.ac.uk>
Date: Wed, 12 Oct 2005 20:19:22 +0100
Message-ID: <677CE4DD24B12C4B9FA138534E29FB1D0ACDDC@exchange11.fed.cclrc.ac.uk>
To: "Sue Ellen Wright" <sellenwright@gmail.com>, "Alan Melby" <melbyak@yahoo.com>, "Laurent.Romary@loria.fr" <laurent.romary@loria.fr>, "Gerhard Budin" <gerhard.budin@univie.ac.at>, "Klaus-Dirk2 Schmitz" <klaus.schmitz@fh-koeln.de>, "Bodil Nistrup Madsen" <bnm.id@cbs.dk>, "Kara Warburton" <KARA@CA.IBM.COM>
Cc: <public-esw-thes@w3.org>, <public-swbp-wg@w3.org>
Hi Sue Ellen,
What if we changed it to something like:
'SKOS Core provides a model for expressing the basic structure and content of concept schemes such as thesauri, classification schemes, subject heading lists, taxonomies, 'folksonomies', other types of controlled vocabulary, and possibly glossaries and terminologies.'
Sorry if there was some misunderstanding - the original sentence was never meant to imply that 'terminologies' are 'controlled vocabularies', that's my fault for lazy wording.  
A quick thought:  I've always thought it would be most constructive for the terminology management community to develop, own and standardise their own RDF-based representation framework for terminologies.  RDF as a basic technology provides some rather good solutions to information integration problems that have been around for a while, reducing the cost for those developing and maintaining distributed information systems.  SKOS Core could then look to express a mapping to that model, with perhaps some published extensions, as an example of how to map SKOS Core to more complex models.
Final word: I'm very grateful for the time you've given to explaining these issues.  We really are at a nexus here!

-----Original Message-----
From: Sue Ellen Wright [mailto:sellenwright@gmail.com]
Sent: 12 October 2005 18:41
To: Miles, AJ (Alistair); Alan Melby; Laurent.Romary@loria.fr; Gerhard Budin; Klaus-Dirk2 Schmitz; Bodil Nistrup Madsen; Kara Warburton
Cc: public-esw-thes@w3.org; public-swbp-wg@w3.org; Mark van Assem (E-mail); Ralph Swick (E-mail)
Subject: SKOS Core 2nd review

Dear Colleagues:

On behalf of the terminology management community, I request that all references to terminologies be removed from the SKOS CORE, at least for the present time. I have highlighted glossaries as well because they traditionally offer significantly less concept-oriented information than do terminologies, although they are much simpler to mark up. 


SKOS Core provides a model for expressing the basic structure and content of concept schemes (thesauri, classification schemes, subject heading lists, taxonomies, 'folksonomies', terminologies, glossaries and other types of controlled vocabulary).


A 'concept scheme' is defined here as: a set of concepts, optionally including statements about semantic relationships between those concepts. Thesauri, classification schemes, subject heading lists, taxonomies, terminologies, 'folksonomies', glossaries and other types of controlled vocabulary are all examples of concept schemes.


The primary reason for my request is that terminologies are indeed NOT controlled vocabularies.

A terminology as defined in ISO 1087-1 is simply: a " set of designations belonging to one special language"

Supplemental information on terminologies includes the fact that terminological entries are concept oriented and include the set of terms (synonymous or equivalent) used to represent the subject concept in one or multiple languages. Terminologies document, or in some cases, standardize, the terms that are used in human discourse, usually in specialized disciplines. They are not primarily used to classify, index, or retrieve objects or information in a physical or digital collection. Ad hoc terminologies, specifically those created within the localization industry and in the context of corpus management, tend to reflect the totally uncontrolled environment of real human discourse.

In contrast, a controlled vocabulary can be: 


[A] Glossary of terms relating to thesauri and other forms of structured vocabulary for information retrieval 

[I'm not very fond of this definition because it uses a narrower term (thesurus) to define the broader term (controlled vocabulary).] 


[A] prescribed list of terms or headings each one having an assigned meaning 

Controlled vocabularies are designed for use in classifying or indexing documents and for searching them. [Note: terminologies are not normally used for this purpose. ] 


NISO draft standard Z39.19: 

Z39.19: A list of terms that have been enumerated explicitly. This list is controlled by and is available from a controlled vocabulary registration authority. All terms in a controlled vocabulary must have an unambiguous, non-redundant definition. (This definition allows for homographs provided that they are "explicitly qualified to resolve  ambiguity". ) 


"The primary purpose of vocabulary control is to achieve consistency in the description of content objects and facilitate retrieval." (Section 1) 


In Z39.19, vocabulary control is also explicitely defined:


vocabulary control: The process of organizing a list of terms (a) to indicate which of two or more synonymous terms is authorized for use; (b) to distinguish between homographs; and (c) to indicate hierarchical and associative relationships among terms in the context of a controlled vocabulary or subject heading list. 


Furthermore, terminologies are not listed as one of the controlled vocabularies covered by the controlled vocabulary standards, although the term is sometimes used in discourse as a synonym for thesauri. This can be confusing because thesauri and terminographical terminologies look very different. 


Thesauri indicate or even embody relationships as their primary purpose, whereas terminologies can contain embedded hierarchical relationships designed for the purpose of clarifying conceptual relationships and for explicitating characteristics to be listed in rigorous definitions. It is desireable for the concept organizational information contained in thesauri and terminologies to be made interchangeable and interoperable, but it is not necessarily useful or desirable for them to be forced to duplicate each other. Neither traditional terminologies nor traditional thesauri feature rules such as we find in ontologies, but again, the hierarchical relationships expressed in all three systems can serve as information portals for the purpose of mediating interoperability among the systems. 


Laurent Romary, Alan Melby, Stella Dextre Clarke and I have all expressed the opinion that the current SKOS framework is inappropriate for expressing the information found in traditional terminologies, although I do think that in the long run it can easily be applied for expressing just the concept hierarchies embedded in these resources. This process is not just a question of expressing TMF (ISO 16642) or TBX (LISA's TermBase eXchange format)  in rdf, however. Of course TMF represents a system of relations, but not all the relations are of the sort addressed by SKOS. We can indeed work out rdf representations for those relations, but the result will still not necessarily be compatible with the current SKOS. Generally Alan, Laurent and I feel that down the road, perhaps in the course of our further work on concept systems in the TC 37 environment, we may want to address the notion of an extension for terminologies with regard to SKOS. Currently we have to focus on the completion of work on our Data Category Registry (MDR) for all the language resources under elaboration in TC 37. Until then, it is better not to confuse the issue by implying that terminolgies are already covered by SKOS. 
We look forward to tracking the development of SKOS and to contributing to the interoperability of concept schemes in the future. 
Best regards
Sue Ellen

Sue Ellen Wright
Institute for Applied Linguistics
Kent State University 
Kent OH 44242 USA
Received on Wednesday, 12 October 2005 19:19:44 UTC

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