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Re: Planned changes to the VIAF RDF

From: Ed Summers <ehs@pobox.com>
Date: Wed, 13 Apr 2011 08:50:33 -0400
Message-ID: <BANLkTi=iB_SCmjwV=gDrJ43Z=tJ6TiMMuQ@mail.gmail.com>
To: public-lld@w3.org
Hi Jeff,

First, let me just say I'm a big fan of the simplifications that you
and Thom are proposing ... they are clearly a big improvement. But I
am wondering about the foaf:focus pattern that you are promoting.

I know I've said this before privately in IRC to various people, but
it's probably worth asking aloud here. Is it really necessary to use
URIs to distinguish between the thing itself, and the concept of the
thing? If we do, how would we like to see these resources used in RDF

For example, if loc.gov were to follow your advice [1] and assert that:

    <http://id.loc.gov/authorities/n88102106#concept> a skos:Concept ;
        skos:prefLabel "Tillett, Barbara B." ;
        foaf:focus <http://id.loc.gov/authorities/n88102106#thing> .

    <http://id.loc.gov/authorities/n88102106#thing> a foaf:Person .

Would you want to see an assertion that Barbara Tillett wrote
"Bibliographic relationships : toward a conceptual structure of
bibliographic information used in cataloging" (assuming the book URI
was legit) done like this:

    <http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/17832769#book> dcterms:creator
<http://id.loc.gov/authorities/n88102106#thing> .

And an assertion that the article "An Interview with Barbara B.
Tillett" is about Barbara Tillett would be:

    <http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/440932158#article> dcterms:subject
<http://id.loc.gov/authorities/n88102106#concept> .

I think lesser minds (at least mine) often have difficulty knowing
when to use a URI for the Information Resource (aka Document) in their
descriptions as opposed to a URI for the Non-Information Resource (aka
Real World Thing). I think further distinguishing between the Concept
of the Thing and the Real World Thing (both as Real World Things?)
actually compounds the problem.

Personally, I would prefer to see loc.gov only mint one identifier for
Barbara Tillett:

<http://id.loc.gov/authorities/n88102106#i> a foaf:Person ;
        foaf:name "Tillett, Barbara B." .

And let people use that identifier in their descriptions:

    <http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/17832769#book> dcterms:creator
<http://id.loc.gov/authorities/n88102106#i> .

    <http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/440932158#article> dcterms:subject
<http://id.loc.gov/authorities/n88102106#i> .

I'm generally worried about this tendency of proliferating URIs, in
the absence of guidance on how the URIs are to be used. I also think
that the motivations for minting separate resources can often be
appeased by refined notions of how the resource URIs are to be used in
descriptions [2].


[1] http://www.mail-archive.com/code4lib@listserv.nd.edu/msg10116.html
[2] http://dfdf.inesc-id.pt/tr/web-arch

On Tue, Apr 12, 2011 at 10:21 AM, Young,Jeff (OR) <jyoung@oclc.org> wrote:
> Thom Hickey posted a blog entry about our plans to streamline the VIAF RDF.
> http://outgoing.typepad.com/outgoing/2011/04/changes-to-viafs-rdf.html
> I can elaborate on the listserv if anyone wants to discuss the changes.
> Jeff
> ---
> Jeffrey A. Young
> Software Architect
> OCLC Research, Mail Code 410
> OCLC Online Computer Library Center, Inc.
> 6565 Kilgour Place
> Dublin, OH 43017-3395
> www.oclc.org
> Voice: 614-764-4342
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> Fax: 614-718-7477
> Email: jyoung@oclc.org
Received on Wednesday, 13 April 2011 12:51:07 UTC

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