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Re: Using DBpedia resources as skos:Concepts?

From: Simon Spero <ses@unc.edu>
Date: Tue, 1 Dec 2009 15:49:26 -0500
Message-ID: <1af06bde0912011249g32eb7f15wa6b3465ca79f75b5@mail.gmail.com>
To: martin <martin@ics.forth.gr>
Cc: public-esw-thes@w3.org, Thomas Baker <thomasbaker49@googlemail.com>, maltese@disi.unitn.it
I don't think we're actually disagreeing, but let me see if I can explain
the frogalopes.  The change in semantics I was referring to was the decision
to reject the interpretation of broader/narrower as being that of total
inclusion over monosemes.

*Frogs *
Natural history museums also are witnesses of “cultural features.” A frog in
a museum is not a testimony of
“what a frog is,” but of what a human culture, at a given point in time and
space, thinks a frog is.  (Bekiari et. al. 2009,n.4)

*And Antelopes*
This section is taken from Buckland (1997).

Ordinarily the word "document" denotes a textual record. Increasingly
sophisticated attempts to provide access to the rapidly growing quantity of
available documents raised questions about which should be considered a
"document". The answer is important for any definition of the scope of
Information Science. Paul Otlet and others developed a functional view of
"document" and discussed whether, for example, sculpture, museum objects,
and live animals, could be considered "documents". Suzanne Briet equated
"document" with organized physical evidence. These ideas appear to resemble
notions of "material culture" in cultural anthropology and "object-as-sign"
in semiotics. Others, especially in the USA (e.g. Jesse Shera and Louis
Shores) took a narrower view. New digital technology renews old questions
and also old confusions between medium, message, and meaning.

In 1951 Briet published a manifesto on the nature of documentation, *Qu'est-ce
que la documentation*, which starts with the assertion that "A document is
evidence in support of a fact." ("Un document est une preuve à l'appui d'un
fait" (Briet, 1951, 7). She then elaborates: A document is "any physical or
symbolic sign, preserved or recorded, intended to represent, to reconstruct,
or to demonstrate a physical or conceptual phenomenon". ("Tout indice
concret ou symbolique, conservé ou enregistré, aux fins de représenter, de
reconstituer ou de prouver un phénomène ou physique ou intellectuel." p. 7.)
The implication is that documentation should not be viewed as being
concerned with texts but with access to evidence.

*The antelope as document*

Briet enumerates six objects and asks if each is a document.

Object --- Document?
Star in sky -- No
Photo of star -- Yes
Stone in river -- No
Stone in museum -- Yes
Animal in wild -- No
Animal in zoo -- Yes

There is discussion of an antelope. An antelope running wild on the plains
of Africa should not be considered a document, she rules. But if it were to
be captured, taken to a zoo and made an object of study, it has been made
into a document. It has become physical evidence being used by those who
study it. Not only that, but scholarly articles written about the antelope
are secondary documents, since the antelope itself is the primary document.

Briet's rules for determining when an object has become a document are not
made clear. We infer, however, from her discussion that:

1. There is materiality: Physical objects and physical signs only;

2. There is intentionality: It is intended that the object be treated as

3. The objects have to be processed: They have to be made into documents;
and, we think,

4. There is a phenomenological position: The object is perceived to be a

This situation is reminiscent of discussions of how an image is made art by
framing it as art. Did Briet mean that just as "art" is made art by
"framing" (i.e. treating) it as art, so an object becomes a "document" when
it is treated as a document, i.e. as a physical or symbolic sign, preserved
or recorded, intended to represent, to reconstruct, or to demonstrate a
physical or conceptual phenomenon? The sources of these views are not made
clear, though she does mention in this context her friend Raymond Bayer, a
professor of philosophy at the Sorbonne, who specialized aesthetics and

Ron Day (1996) has suggested, very plausibly, that Briet's use of the word
"indice" is important, that it is indexicality--the quality of having been
placed in an organized, meaningful relationship with other evidence--that
gives an object its documentary status.

Bekiari, Chryssoula, Martin Doerr, and Patrick Le Bœuf (2009). FRBR
object-oriented definition and mapping to FRBR-ER (version 1.0).
International Working Group on FRBR and CIDOC CRM Harmonisation.
Briet, Suzanne (1951). What is Documentation? Ed. by Ronald E Day and
Laurent Martinet. Paris, France:  Édit.
     url: http://ella.slis.indiana.edu/~roday/briet.htm.
Buckland, M.K. (1997). “What is a “Document”?” In: Journal of the American
Society for Information Science 48.9, pp. 804–809.
    url: http://people.ischool.berkeley.edu/~buckland/whatdoc.html .
Received on Tuesday, 1 December 2009 20:50:00 UTC

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