Last week, Juli Beall and I attended an all-day workshop on “Knowledge Organization Systems: Managing to the Future,” sponsored jointly by CENDI and the NKOS (Networked Knowledge Organization Systems) Working Group. (See the blog entry from last year’s workshop for background information on CENDI and NKOS.) This year’s workshop was hosted by the National Agricultural Library.
The program was organized into three sections, with
emphasis on different facets of
knowledge organization system (
One aspect of shared development is making information about
knowledge organization systems widely available. This subject was addressed in the presentation
by Marjorie Hlava on Taxonomy ShareSpace, a terminology registry for controlled
vocabularies. Only a limited number of
terminologies are currently documented in the registry; developers of thesauri,
subject heading lists, taxonomies, ontologies, etc., are invited to contribute
Interoperability was the theme receiving the most attention during the workshop. Marcia Lei Zeng's presentation reported on ISO standard 25964. Part 1 of the standard, currently in Draft International Standard stage, will replace standards from the mid-1980s on monolingual and multilingual thesauri; part 2 of the standard addresses interoperability of thesauri with other vocabularies and began development over the summer. Especial attention was given to the issue of “nonsymmetrical multilingual thesauri.” Lack of symmetry is not limited, of course, to knowledge organization systems in different languages. Any mapping project we engage in runs up against this same problem: there are different ways of organizing our perceptions of the world of recorded knowledge. Indeed, a constant concern of the editorial team is to make sure we ferret out, on the one hand, and do not introduce, on the other hand, asymmetries within the DDC itself (except that a subject may be developed more deeply in one discipline than another, or in one language than another; the expressive notation used in the DDC renders this kind of asymmetry quite manageable). (Asymmetry between knowledge organization systems was also a key reason why Willem Robert van Hage’s presentation, given as part of the ontologies and semantic web section, emphasized the benefits of aligning, rather than merging, ontologies.) The presentation by Thomas Baker focused on a set of levels of interoperability, geared toward the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative, but also applicable in other contexts. Study of his characterization of these levels should productively inform decisions on the degree of interoperability to be sought in specific situations.
We should also note how gratified we were that Ed Summers’ presentation  on the use of SKOS in id.loc.gov, a web service that makes Library of Congress Subject Headings available as linked data, also highlighted dewey.info.