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Re: Provenance for section 3 in technologies.tex

From: MacKenzie Smith <kenzie@MIT.EDU>
Date: Thu, 26 Jun 2003 21:46:33 -0400
Message-Id: <>
To: www-rdf-dspace@w3.org

Hi Mark,

This subject has seems to have taken a new direction, but my two cents
on the earlier phase of the discussion:

It is true that capturing metadata sources will be very useful for SIMILE
(and semantic web applications in general). It it also true that this is not
a new concept for those of us in the metadata biz... if you look at most
schemas in active use they have some sort of "source" field (as Charles
Blair points out). See an example of this from the MARC standard at

It's also true that the library (or rather the cultural heritage -- museums
and archives) community uses the term "provenance" to mean the
record of ownership of the primary object rather than the metadata.

So maybe the solution is to stop flinging the word "provenance" around
in this context in preference for something more mundane like "source"
for metadata origin?


At 04:38 PM 6/25/2003 +0100, Butler, Mark wrote:

>Some proposed text to describe metadata provenance in section 3 - any
>Metadata provenance: One of the key differences between the Semantic Web and
>pre-existing systems is that the Semantic Web relies on using metadata from
>many disparate sources, rather than having a centrally managed store of
>metadata information. This means it is important to consider the provenance
>of the metadata i.e. where it came from and who authored it. This
>information is important because it enables the system processing the
>metadata to make decisions about how to use it, for example if it possesses
>several varying versions of metadata about the same object. In order to
>guarantee provenance it may be necessary to use additional technologies e.g.
>cryptographically ensure that the originator information is correct and that
>the metadata has not been tampered with. Once the metadata has been ingested
>by the system, the system can also make choices about how to represent the
>provenance information e.g. by reifying individual statements or whether
>adopting representations like quads that record the origin of individual
>statements. Note that the usage of the term provenance is quite different to
>its usage in the library community where it is used to refer to the record
>of ownership of the item described by the metadata.

MacKenzie Smith
Associate Director for Technology
MIT Libraries
Building 14S-208
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA  02139
Received on Thursday, 26 June 2003 21:46:42 UTC

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