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CIDOC, alternative to Harmony

From: Butler, Mark <Mark_Butler@hplb.hpl.hp.com>
Date: Wed, 4 Jun 2003 11:21:15 +0100
Message-ID: <5E13A1874524D411A876006008CD059F066A1D13@0-mail-1.hpl.hp.com>
To: www-rdf-dspace@w3.org

The CIDOC CRM ontology performs a similar role to the Harmony ontology but
is more extensive in scope. CIDOC's stated aim is

"The CIDOC CRM is intended to promote a  shared understanding of cultural
heritage  information by providing a common and  extensible semantic
framework that any  cultural heritage information can be  mapped to. It is
intended to be a common  language for domain experts and  implementers to
formulate requirements for  information systems and to serve as a guide  for
good practice of conceptual modelling.  In this way, it can provide the
"semantic  glue" needed to mediate between different  sources of cultural
heritage information,  such as that published by museums,  libraries and

For a quick introduction to the ontology, see the monohierarchies of
entities and properties in this document:


Some observations:

- Some of the things CIDOC and Harmony (and Dublin Core for that matter)
define are pretty general, e.g. "event". It feels like such definitions
could be done in a standard layer that ontologies like CIDOC and Harmony sit
on top. Unfortunately efforts like the IEEE SUO are much, much too
complicated - perhaps there are some more generic, less domain specific
ontologies that define things like event, actor, place etc which ontologies
like CIDOC or Harmony could sit on? Of course in theory we don't need to
worry about this now, we can map to other ontologies later, but it's just
that I expect there are important modelling decisions here so we might find
with a bit of analysis that there are subtle differences in the higher level
entities and properties in these ontologies (to use the jargon, they
maintain different ontological commitment) which could cause problems later.

- Property hierarchies in CIDOC are much shallower than entity hierarchies,
as property inheritance is more complicated. 

- Representing large ontologies diagramatically is problematic (you need a
big piece of paper) but diagrammtic representations are easier to understand
than purely textual descriptions, although they only provide a general
introduction so are not a substitute. Furthermore different ontologies use
different diagrammatic approaches.  

Dr Mark H. Butler
Research Scientist                HP Labs Bristol
Internet: http://www-uk.hpl.hp.com/people/marbut/
Received on Wednesday, 4 June 2003 06:21:42 UTC

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