NKOS Group Reviews Draft DTD for Thesauri

Presented in D-Lib Magazine [ISSN: 1082-9873] Volume 6 Number 12 (December 2000).

News article contributed by:

Gail Hodge
Consultant/National Biological Information Infrastructure
Information International Associates, Inc.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Interest in controlled vocabularies, categorization schemes, authority files and other knowledge organization systems (KOSs) for organizing and standardizing subject access has increased substantially with the introduction of the Web and knowledge management initiatives within organizations. As companies consider the development of KOSs, the extensive investment required to develop and maintain them becomes apparent.

One way to reduce the investment is to use KOSs that already exist in a variety of subject areas from architecture to zoology. However, many of these KOSs are not available on the Internet, or they are not in an electronic format that allows for easy access to and retrieval of 'pieces' of the vocabulary with its structure intact.

This problem is the focus of the Networked Knowledge Organization Systems/Services (NKOS) Working Group, an ad hoc group of more than 70 KOS developers and implementers from 10 countries. Beginning with an initial workshop at the ACM DL 97 Conference, the group has focused on the standards needed for interoperable, networked KOSs -- metadata for describing KOSs and a protocol for transferring information from the electronic KOS to the application that will use it.

At a recent meeting held in conjunction with the American Society for Information Science and Technology Annual Meeting in Chicago on November 13, members of NKOS focused on a scheme for marking up a KOS. A draft XML DTD, developed by Joseph Busch and Ron Daniel of Metacode, Inc. (now part of Interwoven, Inc.) was presented and reviewed. The schema, called VocML (Vocabulary Mark-Up Language), defines a structure for tagging KOS content to retain the structure. The DTD allows for Dublin Core metadata that describes the KOS itself. It also provides tags and syntax for uniquely identifying each term, its relationship to other terms (using the standard Z39.19 relationships as well as more detailed types of associative relationships), and information such as scope notes and definitions.

The goal is to make the DTD as generalized as possible, so it will work for a variety of KOSs, including authority files, hierarchical thesauri (including those with polyhierarchies), classification schemes, digital gazetteers, and subject heading lists. Comments were gathered, and a revised DTD will be made available in the next few months. In addition, a subgroup of the NKOS is developing a taxonomy of KOSs, which defines types of KOSs based on their structure and behavior in a networked environment.

Information about NKOS, the draft VocML DTD, and the draft Taxonomy of KOSs can be found at http://www.alexandria.ucsb.edu/~lhill/nkos. Questions and comments are welcome to Gail Hodge, National Biological Information Infrastructure/Information International Associates, at gailhodge@aol.com

Extract prepared by Robin Cover for The XML Cover Pages archive.