Joho the Blog[misc] I bet your ontology never thought of this one! - Joho the Blog

[misc] I bet your ontology never thought of this one!

Paul Deschner and I had a fascinating conversation yesterday with Jeffrey Wallman, head of the Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center about perhaps getting his group’s metadata to interoperate with the library metadata we’ve been gathering. The TBRC has a fantastic collection of Tibetan books. So we were talking about the schemas we use — a schema being the set of slots you create for the data you capture. For example, if you’re gathering information about books, you’d have a schema that has slots for title, author, date, publisher, etc. Depending on your needs, you might also include slots for whether there are color illustrations, is the original cover still on it, and has anyone underlined any passages. It turns out that the Tibetan concept of a book is quite a bit different than the West’s, which raises interesting questions about how to capture and express that data in ways that can be useful mashed up.

But it was when we moved on to talking about our author schemas that Jeffrey listed one type of metadata that I would never, ever have thought to include in a schema: reincarnation. It is important for Tibetans to know that Author A is a reincarnation of Author B. And I can see why that would be a crucial bit of information.

So, let this be a lesson: attempts to anticipate all metadata needs are destined to be surprised, sometimes delightfully.

3 Responses to “[misc] I bet your ontology never thought of this one!”

  1. Really interesting, but does the book metadata have to have this? That is, there’s data about me, including my parents, grandparents etc. But does this belong in the book metadata? I suppose the answer is if you can envision a bibliographic query. Hence, did you see evidence that people *do* query, for example, for all titles on compassion from all incarnations?

  2. That’s fantastic — a sort of joint authorship. We need to get the folks at Editeur to add it to the next codelist for ONIX for books! (

  3. A reincarnation is a kind of continuation of lineage, no ?

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