Terminology services

A new report has appeared from UKOLN which provides a state of the art review of terminology services (including discussion of personal name authorities). This is a very helpful piece of work which reviews a variety of approaches. What is especially interesting about it is that it looks at work across a variety of domains: 'classic' library approaches, the semantic web generally, semantic web approaches within e-science, e-learning, geospatial, folksonomies, and so on. It describes an international range of projects and intiatives. It also provides some useful framing approaches, helpfully shaping a wide range of materials.

Here is how the authors characterizes 'terminology services':

Terminology Services (TS) are a set of services that present and apply vocabularies, both controlled and uncontrolled, including their member terms, concepts and relationships. This is done for purposes of searching, browsing, discovery, translation, mapping, semantic reasoning, subject indexing and classification, harvesting, alerting etc. Indicative use cases are discussed. [Terminology Services and Technology JISC state of the art review - summary page]

The authors (Doug Tudhope, Traugott Koch, and Rachel Heery) provide some recommendations for services directions to JISC, who commissioned the report. These are wide-ranging and it is instructive to see what they think is important or advisable. I would have been interested to learn what they see as priorities: what are the three or four things that JISC could fund to effectively advance some of the topics they describe.

Comments: 0

Oct 06, 2006
Hugh Taylor

I'm delighted to see the JISC paying attention to something that has all too obviously been long in need of it. There's been too great a divide between investigations into the technical aspects of interoperability (and the consequent implementation) and the metadata aspects. All the linking systems in the world won't help if you can't "match" one thing with another. Within the UK, I feel the emphasis has been too much on the technical stuff (I made this same point at one of the MODELS workshops in 1996 or thereabouts). This may be partly because of where the main funding initatives have been focused over the last 10 years. There's been an assumption that the data will look after itself (or an unwillingness to explore the fact that it won't and/or to fund that side of things).

There are huge issues that need to be investigated, even from what I know of the "library" sector, so here's hoping that the JISC pick up at least some of the recommendations and agree to progress them.

The report seems to show that there's a good deal of "reinventing the wheel" going on? Some may be more necessary than others...

It's a little unfortunate that the LC/NACO Authority File (LC/NAF) is twice incorrectly cited (and given different forms of name at that). A trivial point - and this is a "final draft" so there's time to fix it - but it's perhaps a valuable demonstration of one of the very problems that the report is highlighting. If various of us call the same thing by different names, then just how do you link them?