1. Tim Wray

    vocabulary alignment, meaning and understanding in the world museum

    We live in a world of silos. Silos data. Silos of culture. Linked Open Data aims to tear down these silos and create unity among the collections, their data and their meaning. The World Museum awaits us. It comes as no surprise that I begin this post with such Romantic allusions. Our discussions of vocabularies –  as technical behemoths and cultural artefacts – were lively and florid at a recent gathering of researchers library and museum professionals at LODLAM-NZ. Metaphors  of time and tide – depicted beautifully in this companion post by Ingrid Mason, highlight issues of their expressive power of their meaning over time and across cultures. I present a very broad technical perspective on the matter beginning with a metaphor for what I believe represents the current state of digital cultural heritage : a world of silos. Among these silos lie vocabularies that describe their collections and induce meaning to their objects. Originally employed to assist cataloguers and disambiguate terms, vocabularies have grown to encompass rich semantic information, often pertaining to the needs of that institution, their collection or their creator communities. Vocabularies themselves are cultural artefacts representing a snapshot of sense making. Like the objects that they describe,...