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Encoding classification systems in SKOS: project to develop concept coordination

From: Leonard Will <L.Will@willpowerinfo.co.uk>
Date: Sun, 19 Oct 2008 17:23:22 +0100
Message-ID: <mJEZomA671+IFAul@mail.willpowerinfo.co.uk>
To: SKOS <public-esw-thes@w3.org>

The Bliss Classification Association (BCA) 
<http://www.blissclassification.org.uk/> has for some years been 
developing a general faceted classification, "BC2", covering all 
subjects and based on the theoretical work of the Classification 
Research Group developed over the past fifty years or so.

At present the classification is developed in a tagged text format with 
a lot of ad-hoc embedded codes, and some specialised programs have been 
developed to generate printed output from this, including systematic 
classified schedules, an alphabetical subject index to the 
classification, and a thesaurus of the concepts which it includes.

To allow the classification to be used in modern applications, the BCA 
wishes to make it available in a machine-readable form, conforming to 
any relevant standards and able to be processed with a wide variety of 
non-proprietary software, both on the Web and in off-line applications. 
This implies that some form of XML format will be required, and two 
possibilities that might serve as a basis are SKOS and the BS8723 
formats at <http://schemas.bs8723.org/>.

However, these formats at present are designed primarily for thesauri, 
and do not provide for the coordination of concepts that a 
classification scheme requires. SKOS considered coordination as its 
"Issue 40", and a lot of discussion ensued, but on 8th May 2008 it 
resolved "to postpone issue 40, due to lack of time, lack of 
implementation experience with tentative solutions, and unclear 
interaction between SKOS and OWL".

In a faceted classification scheme such as BC2, many different concepts 
may be combined, to represent complex subjects such as "The use of 
parting agents in the casting of metal sculptures" or "The effect of 
fluoridation of water supplies on the incidence of dental disease". 
These subjects may be made up of concepts from several facets, such as 
"disciplines", "objects", "activities", "materials", "abstract 
concepts", "people", "place", "time" and so on, and do not have simple 
generic/specific hierarchical relationships. The schedules of the scheme 
contain many examples of such combinations, but the classifier applying 
the scheme to information resources is free to make up others by 
combining concepts according to stated rules.

Any encoding format for a classification scheme needs to be able to 
represent these compounds, and to display them clearly, showing their 
structure, both when the scheme is browsed on its own and when it is 
used to provide headings for a systematic classified catalogue of 
information resources. It should also be possible to search for any 
constituent concept and view the compounds in which it occurs.

The BCA is keen to make progress with this, and has a small amount of 
money available that might support a minor project. We seek views and 
suggestions on how we might proceed.

Leonard Will
Member of the BCA Committee.

Willpower Information       (Partners: Dr Leonard D Will, Sheena E Will)
Information Management Consultants              Tel: +44 (0)20 8372 0092
27 Calshot Way, Enfield, Middlesex EN2 7BQ, UK. Fax: +44 (0)870 051 7276
L.Will@Willpowerinfo.co.uk               Sheena.Will@Willpowerinfo.co.uk
---------------- <URL:http://www.willpowerinfo.co.uk/> -----------------
Received on Sunday, 19 October 2008 16:29:24 UTC

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