From 14-17 November 2011, the e-Humanities Group hosted the 24th CIDOC SIG meeting and the 18th FRBR-CIDOC CRM Harmonization meeting.  Ontologies for information sharing are a key development for research in the digital world, as inter- and multi-disicplinary projects are designed to seek solutions across differing domains. Similarly, the resources of different types of repositories—museums, archives, libraries, for example—can be reenvisioned as integrated in digital space where sophisticated ontologies allow information sharing. The CIDOC CRM—Conceptual Reference Model—is an ontology that has been designed for the integration of cultural heritage information. It is maintained by this international, interdisciplinary working group (CIDOC SIG), who meet several times each year to consider the empirical ramifications of harmonization of cultural entities and concepts across repository types and across intellectual domains.

At this meeting a key piece of the agenda was the final harmonization of the Functional Requirements for Authority Data (FRAD) and Functional Requirements for Subject Authority Data (FRSAD) FRADand FRSAD are conceptual models designed to represent controlled vocabulary for attribution of intellectual responsibility as well as subject indexing in the library environment. Together with the parent Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR), this family of conceptual  models has emerged from the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions. IFLA’s FRBR review group has worked together with the CIDOC SIG to generate an object-oriented version of this family of conceptual models, which is referred to as FRBRoo. FRBRoo, then, is itself a formal ontology for representing the underlying semantics of bibliographic information, in order to facilitate its integration and interchange with museum and archival data. The goal of this enterprise is to contribute to semantic interoperability between documentation structures ( such that:

  • all equivalent information can be retrieved under the same notions and
  • all directly and indirectly related information can be retrieved regardless of its distribution over individual data sources;
  • knowledge encoded for a specific application can be repurposed for other studies;
  • recall and precision in systems employed by both communities is improved;
  • both communities can learn from each other’s concepts for their mutual progress.

The November Amsterdam meeting was attended by approximately twenty representatives. A major point of discussion for the group was consideration of the difference between that which is fictional and that which is fictitious. This is an excellent example of the role of an interdisciplinary collaboratory because the conversation required not only basic definition of the two concepts, but coordination of semantic implications across domains and across repository types, before subsequent integration into the FRBRoo conceptual models and the CIDOC CRM ontology. Another ongoing conversation has been about the concept of family—family names are used as genealogical gathering points in archives, but are rarely used for attribution in library catalogs. Hence, the necessity of empirical definition of the concept of family that avoids fallacious semantic implications arising from socio-political considerations.

On the final day of the four-day meeting papers were heard from scholars who are employing the CIDOC CRM:

– “Aligning the Humanities Citation Ontology (HuCit) with CIDOC-CRM and FRBRoo”,M. Romanello, M. Pasin
– “STAR and STELLAR project outcomes based on CIDOC CRM”, Douglas Tudhope
– “Integration of coordinate information in CIDOC CRM “, Gerald Hiebel, Øyvind Eide, Mark Fichtner
– “How to query CRM instances”, Martin Doerr
– “An event-based approach to describing and understanding museum narratives”, Paul Mulholland

The closing section of the conference was a joint session together with the e-Humanities Research Meeting. The chair of the CIDOC SIG and chief architect of the CRM, Martin Doerr (Research Director, Center for Cultural Informatics, Institute of Computer Science, Foundation for Research and Technology – Hellas (FORTH), Heraklion, Crete, Greece) presented a talk “The Dream of a Global Network of Knowledge.” Dr. Doerr described an innovative approach to co-reference resolution mechanisms.