Eating Dublin Core metadata with your fingers

I thought I knew how to eat with my fingers already, after all, I had mastered it before I could even walk, but it turns out there is a special trick noone ever showed me that makes it just soooo much easier (it's to do with us humans having opposable thumbs). I just learnt it tonight at the Banana Leaf Apolo restaurant in Singapore.

I'm here for the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative's (DCMI) annual conference, and it occurred to me at dinner that Dublin Core Application Profiles (specifying how exactly you use DC metadata within your application) are something else we should consider re-learning.

Let's face it, everyone extends their DC metadata to make it work in their own situation, but these "tweaks" often come back to "bite" you when you actually try to share the metadata with others. So DCMI is now working on a new trick that will make rolling your own Application Profiles more effective.

It's called the Singapore Framework, and will essentially be a recipe of five documents to follow to help you develop an easier-to-deploy Application Profile:

  • Functional Requirements
  • Domain Model
  • Description Set Profile
  • Usage Guidelines
  • Encoding Guidelines

Application Profiles are the "next big thing" in the DC world. DCMI has moved away from declaring property terms so it's now up to each community to define what it needs, but it hasn't been very clear how to approach this. The new Framework starts clearing this up.

This renewed DC focus has followed the finalisation of the DCMI Abstract Model. Dublin Core tends to mature in bursts, and the Abstract Model was its latest growth spurt in June. It is significant because it sorts out all those nagging inconsistencies we used to sweep under the carpet, so now it is theoretically, and mathematically, correct (a lot of existing DC metadata will be OK, but some may need some resuscitation). The Abstract Model also sets DC up nicely for its looming key role in the emerging Semantic Web.

By Douglas Campbell

Douglas was at the Library boy and man, and is one of the world's foremost experts on Dublin Core.

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