Wednesday, 17 September 2008

IVOA recommending SKOS

International Virtual Observatory Alliance (IVOA) has published a proposal of recommendation entitled " Vocabularies in the Virtual Observatory" for public review:

A few interesting excerpts from the document explaining the context and the rational:

"Astronomical information of relevance to the Virtual Observatory (VO) is not confined to quantities easily expressed in a catalogue or a table. Fairly simple things such as position on the sky, brightness in some units, times measured in some frame, redshifts, classifications or other similar quantities are easily manipulated and stored in VOTables and can currently be identified using IVOA Unified Content Descriptors (UCDs). However, astrophysical concepts and quantities use a wide variety of names, identifications, classifications and associations, most of which cannot be described or labelled via UCDs.

There are a number of basic forms of organised semantic knowledge of potential use to the VO. Informal “folksonomies” are at one extreme, and are a very lightly coordinated collection of labels chosen by users. A slightly more formal structure is a “vocabulary”, where the label is drawn from a predefined set of definitions which can include relationships to other labels; vocabularies are primarily associated with searching and browsing tasks. At the other extreme are “ontologies”, where the domain is formally captured in a set of logical classes, typically related in a subclass hierarchy. More formal definitions are presented later in this document.

An astronomical ontology is necessary if we are to have a computer (appear to) “understand” something of the domain. There has been some progress towards creating an ontology of astronomical object types to meet this need. However there are distinct use cases for letting human users find resources of interest through search and navigation of the information space..."

"As the astronomical information processed within the Virtual Observatory becomes more complex, there is an increasing need for a more formal means of identifying quantities, concepts, and processes not confined to things easily placed in a FITS image (Flexible Image Transport System), or expressed in a catalogue or a table. We propose that the IVOA adopt a standard format for vocabularies based on the W3C's Resource Description Framework (RDF) and Simple Knowledge Organization System (SKOS). By adopting a standard and simple format, the IVOA will permit different groups to create and maintain their own specialised vocabularies while letting the rest of the astronomical community access, use, and combine them. The use of current, open standards ensures that VO applications will be able to tap into resources of the growing semantic web. Several examples of useful astronomical vocabularies are provided, including work on a common IVOA thesaurus intended to provide a semantic common base for VO applications."

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Workshop - MetaKnowledge Mash-up 2.0 - London, 9 October 2008

MetaKnowledge Mash-up 2.0: Making and Organising Knowledge in Communities
A joint ISKOUK/KIDMM Day conference/workshop

London, 9 October 2008
10:00 -17:00 (registration opens 9:15)

VENUE: British Computer Society London rooms, Davidson Building, 5 Southampton Street, London WC2E 7HA

FEE: 20 GBP (includes lunch, refreshments and materials)
To book you place, dowload the PDF form and fax it or post it to the British Computer Society. Pre-registration is essential and must be received by end of business Tuesday 7th October. There are no facilities for paying ‘on the door’. Booking queries: Mandy Bauer (; tel. 01793 417472)

In keeping with the last year's successful event the MetaKnowledge Mash-up 2007, BCS KIDMM and ISKO UK have joined efforts to put up this follow-up event.

Knowledge management professionals know that much of the knowledge which drives a successful organization derives from its communities, both formal and informal; and that knowledge can be used and shared more easily if it is organized.

In many organizational contexts, be they businesses, government departments, professional associations and social enterprises, a lot of the most useful knowledge is not contained in documents and other written forms; it is in peoples' heads. Before knowledge organization can begin, there is already the challenge of eliciting and formulating what people know. What are the methods and tooks that can help in these processes?

Social networking technologies may be part of the answer. They are also causing a re-examination of the role of formal KO and its relationship to less formal approaches such as folksonomy and social tagging. People are asking: In what circumstances should formal KO apply, and where might an informal approach be better?; and: Perhaps they could work together? Arguably, they already do, since we organize as we speak or write, at the very least by constructing comprehensible sentences, but also through our choice of words, of implicit categorization and of metaphor.

So, if KO is at work the instant we open our mouths or tap on a keyboard, how and to what degree should we formalize it in our communities, whether face-to-face or virtual? Perhaps different techniques apply in each circumstance?

These are some of the questions surrounding KM and KO in the Web 2.0 age that we hope will be raised and discussed on October 9th. The speakers have been selected because they have case-study stories to tell, and there will also be participative round-table exercises. If we can also find some answers, that will be a bonus!

Speakers and contributors include: Alan Pollard, Conrad Taylor, Marilyn Leask, Jan Wyllie, Lyndsay Rees-Jones, Christopher Dean, Sabine K McNeill and Susan Payne.

To read more visit the event's website.

Outputs from the joint NKOS/CENDI Workshop - Washington, 11 September 2008

"New Dimensions in Knowledge Organization Systems", a joint NKOS/CENDI Workshop sponsored by CENDI and the Networked Knowledge Organization Systems Working Group and hosted by The World Bank Washington, DC took place on September 11, 2008.

Presentation materials are available now at NKOS website.

Friday, 12 September 2008

Vocabulary mapping - CrissCross project

Colleagues working on vocabulary mapping may be interested in CrissCross project.

In CrissCross the subject headings of the German Subject Headings Authority File (SWD) are mapped to notations of the Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC). The method chosen for the mapping procedure is a directional one: the German subject headings function as initial vocabulary, the DDC as target classification. Appropriate DDC numbers are added directly to the particular SWD data record. The SWD Subject Groups serve as a starting point for the creation of work packages.

CrissCross is a project financially supported by the German Research Foundation and being executed by the German National Library in cooperation with the Cologne University of Applied Sciences.

It aims to create a multilingual, thesaurus-based and user-friendly research vocabulary that facilitates research in heterogeneously indexed collections.

More detailed information about CrissCross can be found on the CrissCross website. Now an English version of the website is online:

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Call for Comments: SKOS Simple Knowledge Organization System Reference; SKOS Primer

The W3C Semantic Web Deployment Working Group is pleased to announce the publication of a Last Call Working Draft for the Simple Knowledge Organisation System Reference (SKOS):

Our Working Group has made its best effort to address all comments received to date, and we seek confirmation that the comments have been addressed to the satisfaction of the community, allowing us to move forward to W3C Candidate Recommendation following the Last Call process.

The Working Group solicits review and feedback on this draft specification. In particular, the Working Group would be keen to hear comments regarding any features identified at risk, and from those implementing (among others):

    * Editors: editors that either consume or produce SKOS;
    * Services: vocabulary services that provide access to vocabularies using SKOS;
    * Checkers: applications that check whether the constraints on SKOS vocabularies have been violated.

Comments are requested by 3 October 2008, at which time the Working Group intends to close Last Call. All comments are welcome and should be sent to; please include the text "SKOS comment" in the subject line. All messages received at this address are viewable in a public archive.

The Working Group intends to advance the SKOS Reference to W3C Recommendation after further review and comment. This Last Call Working Draft signals the Working Group's belief that it has met its design objectives for SKOS and has resolved all open issues.

The Working Group has also published an update of the companion SKOS Primer:

The Working Group expects to revise this Primer while the SKOS Reference is undergoing review and eventually publish the Primer as a Working Group Note. Please see also:

Alistair Miles, Senior Computing Officer
Image Bioinformatics Research Group Department of Zoology
University of Oxford

Sean Bechhofer
School of Computer Science,
University of Manchester