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- To: Bill de hÓra <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Subject: RE: [xml-dev] Data vs. Process was Re: [xml-dev] Vocabulary Combination...
- From: "Mark Seaborne" <MSeaborne@origoservices.com>
- Date: Wed, 4 Jun 2003 09:28:50 +0100
- Cc: "XML DEV" <email@example.com>
- Thread-index: AcMqEToWsf/PXOBYSh6MRWjvgIcrFwAW7OyA
- Thread-topic: [xml-dev] Data vs. Process was Re: [xml-dev] Vocabulary Combination...
I missed the beginning of this discussion, so excuse me if I am repeating anything already said, or am off point.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Bill de hÓra [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
> Sent: 03 June 2003 21:41
> To: Jonathan Borden
> Cc: email@example.com; W. E. Perry; XML DEV
> Subject: Re: [xml-dev] Data vs. Process was Re: [xml-dev] Vocabulary
> >> Bill de hÓra wrote:
> >>Strong agreement. But let's remember that you cannot have a theory
> >>of content without a process model - something some luminaries
> >>involved now in the semantic web/ont efforts realized a
> long time ago.
This reminds me of some work I did with (historical) archive search tools some years ago. Archivists build search tools to allow researchers to find useful material. However, they believe very strongly that whatever tools they build must describe and logically organise archive material within its originating contexts. So company papers are logically organised in a structure that reflects its organisation and internal processes over time. They argue that material cannot be understood and used (for whatever purposes), unless one has an understanding of its place within the processes that caused it to be generated in the first place.
This can get quite subtle. I did some work on Scottish Hearth Tax (early poll tax) records, in a demographic study of a small Scottish town. The records list tax paying households, and details of their members, including servants. Great material, but these records have a number of important contexts that cannot be ignored. The most obvious is that of the government attempting to maximise returns, but then there are the householders, exploiting any loophole (or just lying), to minimise payments. And what about the fellow doing the recording, returning favours, paying off old scores! Without an appreciation of these contexts, the data contained in the records is effectively meaningless when reused today. Actually, it is worse than meaningless, it is misleading.
So, theory aside, common sense and experience tells me that when you describe data, you should describe the processes/contexts (whatever you call them) that originally had a stake in its generation.
I did actually build some tools to allow users to build, view and link multiple contexts for archive material, but that was a long time ago.
All the best
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