Following up on my mention of Arlene Taylor last week: I noticed on her home page that she has some presentation slides online, including Metadata, FRBR, and New Challenges (1.4 MB PDF) from October 2004. It’s an introduction, so you’ll probably recognize much of it, but she mentions RDF and the Semantic Web at the end. Too bad there’s no video of it available. Perhaps that will become more common in the next couple of years.
FRBR in RDF, a presentation by Ian Davis of Talis, given at the 2005 International Conference on Dublin Core and Metadata Applications. It talks about the work he and Richard Newman and others have done, which I linked to recently in Expression of FRBR Concepts in RDF.
(Note: It’s a web slide show done with Eric Meyer’s S5, and to my surprise it made my Firefox get confused and I couldn’t load any other URL in that tab.)
Richard Newman has a work in progress on his site: The FRBR, the Semantic Web, and Image Annotation. Unfortunately, the bit where he describes how FRBR fits in isn’t written yet! But read it anyway, and then keep an eye on it. He asks for comments, too.
This one I’m less sure about but I think it could be significant. In the Web Architecture what we call a Resource, FRBR would call a Work. Each Representation of that Resource is an Expression of that Work. In other words the HTML and XML versions of a particular page are different Expressions of that page. When a Web browser requests a particular Expression it gets a snapshot of it at a point in time, this is a Manifestation. The Web Architecture doesn’t name this explicitly but it is implicit in some of the HTTP negotiation that goes on around character sets and ranges. The actual bytes that are transmitted and end up on my hard disk are the Item relating to this Manifestation.
This is why I’m pretty excited to have the opportunity to work on something like FRBR. I think it’s going to be a core referent for many other schemas and will enable a base level of common vocabulary between disparate systems. I want to see MusicBrainz, AudioScrobbler, IMDB, Creative Commons, Amazon and so many others using it to describe their catalogues and metadata in a f[r]eely interchangeable fashion!
So do I. Have a look at their work and send them comments, if you have any.
An Argument for a Semantic Web Based FRBR Union Catalogue, by Jillian C. Wallis, is a shortish paper done in 2004 for Phil Agre‘s course Information Retrieval Systems at UCLA (there are useful links about the Semantic Web there).
Abstract. IFLA’s FRBR is a semantic expression of the relationships between items in the library catalog. The web technologies currently being developed by the W3C could be used to implement these expressions. A new layer would need to be developed on top of the MARC XML layer, to aggregate all of the holdings and descriptive data into a new union catalogue. Thus, the FRBR data could then live in this layer and give the library catalog the new functionality required by FRBR.
Stuff about FRBR and the Semantic Web is interesting. Now, I’m no cataloguer, but I think people would argue with the line that says union catalogues require MARC records and a transmission standard to move the records: MARC is the transmission standard (unless you’re talking IP or tape or sneakernet). I don’t know how commonly MARCXML is being adopted, either, but that’s neither here nor there. The comments about using XML schemas to represent the information about relationships that FRBR requires are interesting.
Just to keep things rolling along and so you don’t miss anything, there are two recent comments I want to point out:
In a comment on Dan Brickely and the W3C, Karl Dubost from the W3C said, “It would be cool if you could explain how FRBR could be used in details for example to manage an album photo. That would be a concrete use case and would help people to develop the tools if all requirements are defined.” He included a couple of links to some W3C discussion about this last February. I’d never thought about applying FRBR to a photo album, but it’s a great challenge. Add a comment if you have one.
And in a comment on AustLit, Kerry Kilner, AustLit’s executive manager, left a comment saying anyone interested in FRBR is welcome to ask for the password for their permanent guest account. That’s very generous, and I’m certainly going to ask for it. You can get in touch with him through AustLit.
Kent Fitch, also from AustLit, was kind enough to send me an XML dump of how Souls in the Great Machine is represented in their system, and it’s wild viewing. It goes over twenty levels deep in some places, and has lots of
<manifestation> tags. I’ll slurp it up into a Perl XML parser so I can examine it more. I like reading XML, but I have my limits.
While searching on “frbr” at Clusty, I came across some e-mail that Dan Brickley sent to the W3C TAG (Technical Architecture Group) mailing list last week: InformationResources, FRBR and googling towards a literature review. It’s part of a thread about the nature of information resources.
While I’m *delighted* that http-range-14 has been defused, I’m really not yet sure that the class “information resource” can be uncontroversially defined without a fair bit of hard work. There’s a big literature around this distinction, eg. see in the digital library world, the debates that spun out of the interaction between Dublin Core (library) and INDECS (rights holder / publisher) metadata efforts….
If the TAG decide to pursue this task, I do recommend that FRBR gets some serious attention, as it has a lot of mind-share in the library and digital library world. My understanding is that FRBR is best thought of as an attempt to come up with a conceptual model that allows information systems to be clear about distinctions such as between different versions of Hamlet, different editions, different physical books and their location in library or who they’ve been lent to, as well as the larger challenge of engaging with complex, composite, mixed-media works.
He throws some cold water on the crossover between FRBR and what the W3C is doing in this subsequent e-mail.
Chris Wilper brought up FRBR on the same list last September, also in a thread about information resources.
It would be exciting if the W3C could make use of FRBR in building the semantic web.