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Ontology Engineering

Submitted by rnsrk on

WissKI uses the Ressource Description Framework (RDF) to store and traverse its data. Therefore, every data model of a WissKI must based on an ontology, mainly - but not necessarily - an implementation of the CIDOC Conceptual Reference Model (CIDOC CRM). The use of standards facilitates data modeling by building on existing experience and accumulated knowledge and simplifies the communicability and subsequent use of one's own data model.

CIDOC CRM is a top level ontology and describes objects and events on a higher abstraction level. It has been developed for more than a decade by experts from museums, archives and libraries in collaboration with philosophers and computer scientists as part of a Working Group on Documentation (CIDOC SIG) of the International Council of Museums (ICOM). It is a formal model that seeks to map and make interchangeable the heterogeneous information of humanities and cultural studies across disciplines. It defines concepts and relations, each explained by a short documentation (Scope Note) and illustrated by examples. Two key points distinguish CIDOC CRM from other ontologies: On the one hand, the documentation is event-centered. This means that every step in the history of a subject, be it a physical or conceptual object or a person, is described by events (such as a person's birth and death) and not by states (being alive). The events connect the documented subjects with other objects, acting persons, time and place and further information. On the other hand, CIDOC CRM separates things and their names. Thus, the identity of a person is not determined by his name, whereby facts can be modeled, such as: The identity of two persons is different, but the name is identical.

We recommend to use the current version of Erlangen CRM / OWL, and OWL implementation of CIDOC CRM. If the level of specification of CIDOC CRM is not sufficient for your project, it can be extended with own concepts; the Protégé ontology editor is a suitable tool for this. If you are inexperienced with ontology development, familiarize yourself with the concepts and methods beforehand. Protégé provides some good tutorials and introductions itself.

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