Knowledge Organisation


Kim H. Veltman

Cultural and Historical Metadata:
MEMECS (Metadonnées et Mémoire Collective Systématique)

WWW9, Amsterdam, 2000 (in press), pp. 1-13.
Published electronically as: "Cultural and Historical Metadata, MEMECS (Metadonnées et Mémoire Collective Systématique)," Cultivate Interactive, Issue 1, July 2000.

1. Introduction
2. Copies and Versions
3. Quality and Veracity
4. Dynamic Metadata
Concepts and their Relations
Historical and Cultural Objects
5. Conclusions

1. Introduction

When the Internet began in 1969 it was largely a communication channel for high-energy physics. This soon expanded to include astronomy. When the World Wide Web emerged in the 1980’s it rapidly became a repository for all subjects. In the past decades there have been three important trends:

1) digitising enduring knowledge in memory institutions (libraries, museums, archives)
2) evolution of collaborative knowledge through virtual laboratories and collaboratories
3) rise of personal knowledge through e-mail, chat groups, MOOs, lists etc.

Visionaries now speak of a time in the --near-- future when all recorded knowledge will be accessible through the World Wide Web. How to integrate these three kinds of knowledge will thus become an increasing challenge. Fortunately, many of the obstacles standing in the way of such a vision are already being tackled by organizations such as the W3C and the Internet Society. At first, problems of technological interoperability at the level of hardware and software dominated the scene. More recently, there has been increasing interest in interoperability of content. Here, work is being done on heterogeneous, distributed databases. Metadata has emerged as one of the key concepts. In this context, the efforts of the Dublin Core (DC) to define a common ground through basic data entry fields are extremely valuable. The European Commission is supporting multilingual approaches. The W3C is working on a Resource Description Format (RDF), which will integrate other initiatives such as eXtensible Markup Language (XML), eXtensible Style Language (XSL), and the Protocol for Internet Content Selection (PICS). This paper focusses on three sets of problems which remain concerning metadata. First, there are problems of quantity introduced by the enormous proliferation of images, words, sounds and other materials made available through the multimedia revolution. Second, there are problems of determining the quality and veracity of these images, words and sounds. Third, there is the challenge of developing dynamic metadata.

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