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Re: How to describe things in an archive collection?

From: Giovanni Michetti <michetti@mail.ubc.ca>
Date: Thu, 6 Aug 2015 04:28:22 +0200
To: Richard Wallis <richard.wallis@dataliberate.com>, public-architypes <public-architypes@w3.org>
Message-ID: <55C2C646.1070007@mail.ubc.ca>
Hello Richard,

I think that the most common standards for archival description offer 
quite a long list of the descriptive properties that would be of use in 
describing an item's place and role in an archives. In particular, if we 
take a look at the most famous one, ISAD(G), and avoid focusing on the 
specific information elements, we can recognize some aspects that are 
fundamental to any archival description:

- identification (identifier, title, location, ...)
- physical characteristics (extent, dimensions, medium, ...)
- creation (info on creator, dates and circumstances of creation)
- custody (info on custodial history, including curation actions)
- content (scope, content, keywords...)
- access & use (info on conditions governing access & use)
- related materials (info on relationships with any relevant objects 
within or outside the collection, including the collection itself)
- description control (info on the description process, including 
authors, dates, methods ...)

I would like to point out that:

1) such a rough list comes from a quick review of ISAD only;

2) these broad categories result in a set of properties whose 
granularity has to be defined and shared by the group. I think it may be 
useful though to proceed in a top-down approach, identifying the areas 
of interest, and then specifying the properties;

3) information on creation and custody, as well as on the description 
control, is fundamental to trace the Provenance of an archival object, 
which is a core issue in the research agenda of many scientific 
initiatives around the world. I would put a lot of attention in these areas;

4) with reference to your tentative list of properties, they all fit the 
above list.

On a separate note, I would like to add a quick comment on archives vs 
archive: 'archives' is not plural, it is a technical term used in the 
archival domain to designate a specific object--an archives. Just like a 
fonds is a fonds--this is not about plural. I guess no one would ever 
create a class called "ArchivalFond", just like no one would create a 
class called "New" to refer to news. In short, I don't think the 
argument on respecting the Schema.org convention (i.e., use singular for 
the names of classes) holds here. Also, please note that the ICA 
Glossary does not have any "archive"--only archives. Anyway, I'm sure 
there will be time for further discussion later.


Giovannni Michetti
InterPARES Trust

On 2015-08-05 12:03 PM, Richard Wallis wrote:
> In other threads we have been discussing how to describe an Archive as
> an Organization/LocalBusiness
> <http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-architypes/2015Jul/0002.html> when
> appropriate, and how to describe an ArchiveCollection
> <http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-architypes/2015Jul/0008.html>.
> Now I think it is time to add one more area to our attention - how to
> describe the physical/digital things that we find within an archive
> collection.
> In archives we find all types of things from creative works such as
> books, letters, artworks, videos, web pages etc., to furniture, personal
> items, vehicles, fossils, rocks and of course the favourite box of
> things yet to be identified.  From what I understand there are certain
> common categories of things such as physical creative works, digital
> creative works, physical containers of things identified or not, but it
> would be far too limiting to build our recommendations around these.
> The result is that we need to be able to describe anything that could be
> found in an archive which means /anything!/.
> Fortunately in our world all these things have one aspect in common -
> they are in an archive.
> If we can establish a set of descriptive properties that would be of use
> in describing an item's place and role in an archive, we can then look
> to some, schema.org <http://schema.org>, techniques to apply them
> alongside other properties that are already available in the Schema
> vocabulary.
> Properties that come to mind include:
>     isPartOf - a reference to the collection a thing is in
>     condition - state of preservation of an item
>     containedIn - the box or digital file containing the item
>     curatedBy
>     curationDate
>     CurationEvent - possibly a better way to describe a curation event -
>     linking where when and by who
>     location - of item, not necessarily the collection location
> We could look to already existent standards, CIDOC-CRM for example, as a
> source of inspiration.
> So, over to you for suggestions.  Once we have assemble a few by email
> discussion, we can create a page in the Wiki to capture them and become
> the basis for the core of our proposals.
> ~Richard.
> Richard Wallis
> Founder, Data Liberate
> http://dataliberate.com
> Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/in/richardwallis
> Twitter: @rjw
Received on Thursday, 6 August 2015 16:29:20 UTC

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