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April 4, 2008

[topicmaps] The ontology of Duckberg

Birte Fallet, Kjersti Haukaas and Asbjørn Risan present a topic map of Donald Duck’s world. It cameou t of a master course at Oslo University, with Steve Pepper as tutor.

They show the surprisingly full Duck family tree and the topic map of the relationships. Quackmore is the father of Donald and Della. [See? We learn stuff every day! They made special relationships for cousin, uncle, etc. [Why not infer this from the tree? Possibly because they decided to exclude known members who do not participate in stories.] Some relationships are symmetric, and some are asymmetric. They have a special association type for “unrequited love.” And some characters switch occupations. In fact, Donald seems to have a different job in juist about every episode: museum guard, factory worker, dog catcher… They attached the occuptations to the stories. They’ve captured a lot of detail. [But not a taxonomy of Entertainers Without Pants]

They found topic maps to provide “associative richness,” flexible, easy to learn and “Quite fun actually.” The map is here

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April 3, 2008

[topicmaps] Sam Oh on FRBR

Sam Oh teaches at Sungkyunkwan U in Korea and heads the ISO committee responsible for Topic Maps (among other things). (I had the pleasure and honor of having dinner with him last night.) [Caution: Live-Blogging]

FRBR tries to capture the various levels of abstraction of our works. Group 1 consists of: work, expression, manifestation, and item. “A work is realized through an expression” that is “embodied in” a manifestation and “is exemplified by an item.” E.g., Othello is a work which may be expressed in English or in Korean. A particular edition of a book is a manifestation, while a particular copy is an item.

Group 2 consists of people and corporate bodies responsible for creating Group 1.

Group 3 are the subject entities that “serve as the subjects of intellectual or artistic endeavor” Concept (topical subject heading), object (name for an object), even (name for an event), place (name for a place). Sam says that FRBR adopted these from topic maps.

There are some defined relationships among these three grups: A work is by a person, a manifestation may be produced by a corporate bdy, etc. Ad there are work to work relationships such as successor, supplement, complement, translation, etc.

Currently, everything is focused on the manifestation level. That’s at the center of the map, so to speak. A future direction for library systems: Applying FRBR in services to present search results, to streamline cataloging, and to express new insights into works. FRBR can “naturally” be rendered in topic maps, he says.

Sam talks about mapping MARC (standard bibliographic records) to FRBR. The OCLC has an algorithm for converting these.

He shows some examples of pages and maps. He also notes that FRBR’s terms for talking about these levels of expression aren’t clear to a general public. E.g., most people don’t talk about “manifestations.” He’d like to see better terms, especially as FRBR gets exposed more widely. He also thinks the library community should come to know topic maps better.

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