Zitgist, Bruce D’Arcus, the Zotero team and Michael K. Bergman started a new initiative to develop a new citation and bibliographic references ontology. The idea of that project started a couple of days ago when we tried to find how Zotero could be integrated in a semantic web environment. This brainstorming leaded us to start a new ontology development project: The Bibliographic Ontology.
Some things are already in place to start the collaborative development of the ontology:
- Bibliographic Ontology Specification Document
- Bibliographic Ontology Specification Wiki
- Bibliographic Ontology Specification Group Mailing list
Starting the development of this ontology
As a starting point of the development of this ontology, we will take the “Citation Oriented Bibliographic Vocabulary” developed by Bruce D’Arcus. It is a start, but as he pointed out in the brainstorming, there are much work to do with it to create a better citations and bibliographic ontology. Also, Bruce wrote an introduction mail about what he has in mind to make it a better ontology, what he thinks we should work on, etc. Have in mind that Bruce has a big background and much experience in the domain of citations and bibliographic references.
The development of this ontology should be driven by its goals. Bruce outlined some goals for this ontology, and more could be added depending on how people are expecting to use it.
- Should be a superset of legacy formats like BibTeX, RIS, and so forth
- Must support the most demanding needs in the social sciences, humanities, and law, and those who deal with non-Western languages
- The class system must be able to map to the type system in the citation style language I [Bruce] designed. In short, it is not enough to just encode the data: it needs to be able to be formatted according to the often archaic details of citation styles
- Should be developer-friendly; I consider examples like DOAP and SKOS to be models here
- Behind all of these goals are a more concrete goal: it should be perfect for using in OpenDocument/OpenOffice citation support and should handle Zotero’s needs.
In fact, for the point 5, these systems will be the tests cases for the development of this new ontology. They are the same as Musicbrainz, Magnatune and any musical needs that were the tests cases for the development of the Music Ontology.
Users can be many people or systems. Just to listen a couple of them:
- OpenDocument/OpenOffice citation system
- Students or professors in a social science or law department
- Book selling systems such as Amazon.com, Alibris.com or Abebooks.com
- Book, journals, etc. publishers
As you can see, many things [people or systems] are potential users of this ontology: from people without computer background to heavy and complexes systems such as Amaon.com Zotero and OpenOffice.
Users and goals define the development constraints of that ontology. However, we will try to take the same path as me and Yves Raimond has taken for the development of the Music Ontology: creating many levels of expressiveness for the ontology. These levels will be use depending on the user: does the user need to only describe a simple bibliographic reference? Yes, then he will use the level one. Does the user need to describe a collaborative work aggregating many medium sources like: writings, speeches, and conferences, in many languages and in a special timeframe? Yes, then he will use level three. It has been quite a successful approach in the Music Ontology so we should try it into the Bibliographic Ontology too.
Reuse of existing ontologies
This ontology will probably reuse many existing ontologies. Some of them could be:
- FRBR: as the basement of the ontology
- FOAF: as the way to describe authors
- SIOC: as a way to describe everything related to the social software World: wiki pages, blog posts, mailing list threads, etc.
- MO: as a way to describe everything related to musical things
- DC: do I have to say why?
- Event: as a way to describe some events like workshops, conferences, etc.
- Timeline: as a way to describe complex temporal frameworks
If you are interested in that new ontology development project, I would suggest you to subscribe to the mailing list as well as creating a user on the Wiki and to start giving your ideas and expertise to develop the Bibliographic Ontology. What is great with that project is that it is already motivated by external projects such as its integration into the OpenDocument/OpenOffice citation support and its use by Zotero for its integration with Ping the Semantic Web and Zitgist.