The Power to Structure

Making Meaning from Metadata Through Ontologies

Authors

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.18357/kula.169

Keywords:

bias, digital humanities, linked open data, metadata, ontology, power

Abstract

Information systems are developed by people with intent—they are designed to help creators and users tell specific stories with data. Within information systems, the often invisible structures of metadata profoundly impact the meaning that can be derived from that data. The Linked Infrastructure for Networked Cultural Scholarship project (LINCS) helps humanities researchers tell stories by using linked open data to convert humanities datasets into organized, interconnected, machine-processable resources. LINCS provides context for online cultural materials, interlinks them, and grounds them in sources to improve web resources for research. This article describes how the LINCS team is using the shared standards of linked data and especially ontologies—typically unseen yet powerful—to bring meaning mindfully to metadata through structure. The LINCS metadata—comprised of linked open data about cultural artifacts, people, and processes—and the structures that support it must represent multiple, diverse ways of knowing. It needs to enable various means of incorporating contextual data and of telling stories with nuance and context, situated and supported by data structures that reflect and make space for specificities and complexities. As it addresses specificity in each research dataset, LINCS is simultaneously working to balance interoperability, as achieved through a level of generalization, with contextual and domain-specific requirements. The LINCS team’s approach to ontology adoption and use centers on intersectionality, multiplicity, and difference. The question of what meaning the structures being used will bring to the data is as important as what meaning is introduced as a result of linking data together, and the project has built this premise into its decision-making and implementation processes. To convey an understanding of categories and classification as contextually embedded—culturally produced, intersecting, and discursive—the LINCS team frames them not as fixed but as grounds for investigation and starting points for understanding. Metadata structures are as important as vocabularies for producing such meaning.

Downloads

Download data is not yet available.

References

Barbera, Michele. 2013. “Linked (Open) Data at Web Scale: Research, Social and Engineering Challenges in the Digital Humanities.” Italian Journal of Library, Archives and Information Science 4 (1): 91. http://dx.doi.org/10.4403/jlis.it-6333.

Bekiari, Chryssoula, George Bruseker, Martin Doerr, Christian-Emil Ore, Stephen Stead, and Athanasios Velios, eds. 2021. Volume A: Definition of the CIDOC Conceptual Reference Model. ICOM CIDOC. https://doi.org/10.26225/FDZH-X261.

Billey, Amber, Emily Drabinski, and K. R. Roberto. 2014. “What’s Gender Got to Do with It? A Critique of RDA 9.7.” Cataloging & Classification Quarterly 52 (4): 412–21. https://doi.org/10.1080/01639374.2014.882465.

Bowker, Geoffrey C., and Susan Leigh Star. 2000. Sorting Things Out: Classification and Its Consequences. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. https://doi.org/10.7551/mitpress/6352.001.0001.

Bratton, Benjamin H. 2016. The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. https://doi.org/10.7551/mitpress/9780262029575.001.0001.

Bray, Tim. 1998. “RDF and Metadata.” XML.com. Accessed July 2, 2021. https://www.xml.com/pub/a/98/06/rdf.html.

The British Museum. 2021. ResearchSpace. http://researchspace.org/.

Brown, Susan. 2010. “Socialized Scholarship: It Starts with Us.” ESC: English Studies in Canada 36 (4): 10–13. http://doi.org/10.1353/esc.2010.0036.

Brown, Susan. 2011. “Don’t Mind the Gap: Evolving Digital Modes of Scholarly Production Across the Digital-Humanities Divide.” In Retooling the Humanities: The Culture of Research in Canadian Universities. Edited by Daniel Coleman and Smaro Kamboureli, 203–231. Edmonton: University of Alberta Press. https://doi.org/10.7939/R3W08WH5V.

Brown, Susan. 2020. “Categorically Provisional.” PMLA 135 (1): 165–74. https://doi.org/10.1632/pmla.2020.135.1.165.

Brown, Susan, Joel Cummings, Jasmine Drudge-Willson, Colin Faulkner, Abigel Lemak, Kim Martin, Alliyya Mo, Jade Penancier, John Simpson, Thomas Smith, Gurjap Singh, Deborah Stacey, Robert Warren, and Constance Crompton. 2019. “The CWRC Ontology Specification 0.99.80.” Scholars Portal Dataverse, V1. https://doi.org/10.5683/SP2/HXMS24.

Brown, Susan, Abigel Lemak, Colin Faulkner, Kim Martin, and Rob Warren. 2017. “Cultural (Re-)formations: Structuring a Linked Data Ontology for Intersectional Identities.” Paper presented at Digital Humanities 2017, Montreal, QC, August 2017. https://dh2017.adho.org/abstracts/580/580.pdf.

Canada’s Early Women Writers Project. 2020. “Violet McNaughton.” https://cwrc.ca/islandora/object/ceww%3Ad9ebf526-9254-421f-ac11-2d869a090192.

Canadian Writing Research Collaboratory. n.d. Accessed July 14, 2021. https://cwrc.ca/.

Canadian Writing Research Collaboratory. 2019. “CWRC Ontology Preamble.” http://sparql.cwrc.ca/ontologies/cwrc-preamble-EN.html.

Canadian Writing Research Collaboratory. n.d. CWRC-Writer. Accessed 14 July, 2021. https://cwrc-writer.cwrc.ca/.

Canning, Erin. 2018. “Affective Metadata for Object Experiences in the Art Museum.” MMst diss., University of Toronto. https://tspace.library.utoronto.ca/bitstream/1807/91417/4/Canning_Erin_201811_MMSt_thesis.pdf.

Canning, Erin, Susan Brown, Kim Martin, Alliyya Mo, and Sarah Roger. 2022. LINCS Ontologies Adoption & Development Policy. LINCS Project. https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.6047748.

Center of Digital Humanities Research at Texas A&M University. n.d. The Advanced Research Consortium (ARC). Accessed July 14, 2021. http://arc.dh.tamu.edu/.

Coburn, Erin, and Murtha Baca. 2004. “Beyond the Gallery Walls: Tools and Methods for Leading End-Users to Collections Information.” Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 30 (5): 14–19. https://doi.org/10.1002/bult.323.

CIDOC CRM. n.d. International Council for Documentation. Accessed July 14, 2021. http://www.cidoc-crm.org/.

CIDOC CRM. 2021a. “Issue 504: Formulate the philosophical underpinnings of crm and its relation to reality and the objectivity of observations.” Accessed July 14, 2021. https://cidoc-crm.org/Issue/ID-504-formulate-the-philosophical-underpinnings-of-crm-and-its-relation-to-reality-and-the.

CIDOC CRM. 2021b. “Issue 530: Bias in data structure.” Accessed July 14, 2021. https://cidoc-crm.org/Issue/ID-530-bias-in-data-structure.

Collins, Patricia Hill, and Sirma Bilge. 2020. Intersectionality. 2nd edition. New York: Wiley.

Cope, Bill, Mary Kalantzis, and Liam MaGee. 2011. Towards a Semantic Web: Connecting Knowledge in Academic Research. Cambridge, MA: Chandos.

Crenshaw, Kimberlé. 1989. “Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics.” University of Chicago Legal Forum 1989 (1): 139–67.

D’Ignazio, Catherine, and Lauren F. Klein. 2020. Data Feminism. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Digitised Manuscripts to Europeana (D2ME). n.d. Accessed July 14, 2021. http://dm2e.eu/.

Doerr, Martin. 2003. “The CIDOC Conceptual Reference Module: An Ontological Approach to Semantic Interoperability of Metadata.” AI Magazine 24(3): 75–92. https://doi.org/10.1609/aimag.v24i3.1720.

Doerr, Martin, Richard Light, and Gerald Hiebel. 2020. “Implementing the CIDOC Conceptual Reference Model in RDF.” https://docs.google.com/document/d/1NdrWpzo7EFChryh4Qg-Ue8WLvnwejHx20eiwdJuZEck.

Drabinski, Emily. 2013. “Queering the Catalog: Queer Theory and the Politics of Correction.” The Library Quarterly 83 (2): 94–111. https://doi.org/10.1086/669547.

Duarte, Marisa Elena, and Miranda Belarde-Lewis. 2015. “Imagining: Creating Spaces for Indigenous Ontologies.” Cataloging & Classification Quarterly 53 (5–6): 677–702. https://doi.org/10.1080/01639374.2015.1018396.

Enslaved: Peoples of the Historical Slave Trade. n.d. Accessed July 14, 2021. https://enslaved.org/.

Europeana. n.d. Accessed July 15, 2021. https://www.europeana.eu/en.

Flanders, Julia. 2018. “Building Otherwise.” In Bodies of Information: Intersectional Feminism and the Digital Humanities. Edited by Elizabeth Losh and Jacqueline Wernimont, 289–304. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Frontini, Francesca, Carmen Brando, and Jean-Gabriel Ganascia. 2015. “Semantic Web Based Named Entity Linking for Digital Humanities and Heritage Texts.” In Proceedings of the First International Workshop Semantic Web for Scientific Heritage at the 12th ESWC 2015 Conference, edited by Arnaud Zucker, Isabelle Draelants, Catherine Faron-Zucker, and Alexandre Monnin, 77–88. http://ceur-ws.org/Vol-1364/paper9.pdf.

Giunchiglia, Fausto, Biswanath Dutta, and Vincenzo Maltese. 2014. “From Knowledge Organization to Knowledge Representation.” Knowledge Organization 41 (1): 44–56. https://doi.org/10.5771/0943-7444-2014-1-44.

Hacıgüzeller, Piraye, James Stuart Taylor, and Sara Perry. 2021. “On the Emerging Supremacy of Structured Digital Data in Archaeology: A Preliminary Assessment of Information, Knowledge and Wisdom Left Behind.” Open Archaeology 7 (1): 1709–30. https://doi.org/10.1515/opar-2020-0220.

Haraway, Donna. 1988. “Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective.” Feminist Studies 14 (3): 575–99. https://doi.org/10.2307/3178066.

Historic Places LA. n.d. Los Angeles Historic Resources Inventory. Accessed July 14, 2021. http://www.historicplacesla.org/.

Hoekstra, Rinke, Albert Meroño-Peñuela, Kathrin Dentler, Auke Rijpma, Richard Zijdeman, and Ivo Zandhuis. 2016. “An Ecosystem for Linked Humanities Data.” In ESWC 2016: The Semantic Web, edited by Harald Sack, Giuseppe Rizzo, Nadine Steinmetz, Dunja Mladenic, Sören Auer, and Christoph Lange, 425–40. Heidelberg: Springer, Cham.

Huma-Num. n.d. Isidore. Accessed July 14, 2021. https://isidore.science/.

Hypothes.is. n.d. Accessed July 14, 2021. https://web.hypothes.is/.

Hyvönen, Eero. 2012. Publishing and Using Cultural Heritage Linked Data on the Semantic Web. Morgan & Claypool. https://doi.org/10.2200/S00452ED1V01Y201210WBE003.

Hyvönen, Eero. 2020. “Linked Open Data Infrastructure for Digital Humanities in Finland.” In Proceedings of the Digital Humanities in the Nordic Countries 5th Conference, edited by Sanita Reinsone, Inguna Skadina, Anda Baklãne, and Jãnis Daugavietis, 254–59. Riga, Latvia.

ICS Forth. n.d. 3M Mapping Memory Manager. Accessed July 14, 2021. http://139.91.183.3/3M/.

IIIF Community. n.d. International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF). Accessed July 14, 2021. https://iiif.io/.

International Organization for Standards. 2014. “ISO 21127:2014 Information and Documentation—A Reference Ontology for the Interchange of Cultural Heritage Information.” https://www.iso.org/standard/57832.html.

Knoblock, Craig. n.d. Karma. Accessed July 14, 2021. https://usc-isi-i2.github.io/karma/.

Levesque, Hector. 1986. “Knowledge Representation and Reasoning.” Annual Review of Computer Science 1 (1): 255–87.

Linked Data for Production: Pathway to Implementation (LD4P2). n.d. Accessed July 14, 2021. https://wiki.lyrasis.org/display/LD4P2. Archived at: https://perma.cc/BEZ4-F6QN.

Linked Open Vocabularies (LOV). n.d. Accessed July 14, 2021. https://lov.linkeddata.es.

Littletree, Sandra, and Cheryl A. Metoyer. 2015. “Knowledge Organization from an Indigenous Perspective: The Mashantucket Pequot Thesaurus of American Indian Terminology Project.” Cataloging & Classification Quarterly 53 (5–6): 640–57. https://doi.org/10.1080/01639374.2015.1010113.

Liu, Alan. 2020. “Toward a Diversity Stack: Digital Humanities and Diversity as Technical Problem.” PMLA 135 (1): 130–51. https://doi.org/10.1632/pmla.2020.135.1.130.

Martin, Kim, Sarah Roger, Erin Canning, and Alliyya Mo. 2022. LINCS Research Dataset Intake Questionnaire. LINCS Project. https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.6048520.

McPherson, Tara. 2012. “Why Are the Digital Humanities So White? Or Thinking the Histories of Race and Computation.” In Debates in the Digital Humanities, edited by Matthew K. Gold. https://doi.org/10.5749/9781452963754.

McPherson, Tara. 2014. “Designing for Difference.” differences 25 (1): 177–88. https://doi.org/10.1215/10407391-2420039.

Moraitou, Efthymia, John Aliprantis, Yannis Christodoulou, Alexandros Teneketzis, and George Caridakis. 2019. “Semantic Bridging of Cultural Heritage Disciplines and Tasks.” Heritage 2 (1): 611–30. https://doi.org/10.3390/heritage2010040.

Oldman, Dominic. “The British Museum, CIDOC CRM and the Shaping of Knowledge.” Dominic Oldman (blog), September 4, 2012. https://web.archive.org/web/20160820105411/www.oldman.me.uk/blog/the-british-museum-cidoc-crm-and-the-shaping-of-knowledge/.

Olson, Hope A. 2001. “The Power to Name: Representation in Library Catalogs.” Signs 26 (3): 639–68. https://www.jstor.org/stable/3175535.

OmekaS. n.d. Accessed July 14, 2021. https://omeka.org/s/.

OntoME: Ontology Management Environment. n.d. Accessed July 14, 2021. https://ontome.net/.

OpenRefine. n.d. Accessed July 14, 2021. http://openrefine.org/.

Pan-Canadian Documentary Heritage Network (PCDHN). 2018. “Out of the Trenches: A Linked Open Data Project.” UAL Dataverse, V2. https://doi.org/10.7939/DVN/URXSGC.

Pattuelli, Cristina, dir. n.d. Linked Jazz. Accessed July 14, 2021. https://linkedjazz.org/.

Paul Getty Trust. 2021. Arches Project. https://www.archesproject.org/.

Posner, Miriam. 2016. “What’s Next: The Radical, Unrealized Potential of Digital Humanities.” In Debates in the Digital Humanities 2016, edited by Matthew K. Gold and Lauren F. Klein, 32-41. https://doi.org/10.5749/9781452963761.

Quintman, Andrew, and Kurtis R. Schaeffer. 2019. The Life of the Buddha. https://lotb.iath.virginia.edu/project.

Ruberg, Bonnie, Jason Boyd, and James Howe. 2018. “Toward a Queer Digital Humanities.” In Bodies of Information: Intersectional Feminism and the Digital Humanities, edited by Elizabeth Losh and Jacqueline Wernimont, 108–27. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Sanderson, Robert. 2013. “RDF: Resource Description Failures and Linked Data Letdowns.” Journal of Digital Humanities 2 (3): 33–34. http://journalofdigitalhumanities.org/files/jdh_2_3.pdf.

Sanderson, Robert. 2018. “Shout it Out: LOUD.” Keynote address presented at EuropeanaTech conference, Rotterdam, Netherlands, May 2018. YouTube video, 41:34. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4afi8mGVAY.

Sanderson, Robert, Paolo Ciccarese, and Benjamin Young, eds. 2017. “Web Annotation Data Model.” W3C. https://www.w3.org/TR/annotation-model/. Archived at: https://perma.cc/34T7-G3HB.

The Shelley-Godwin Archive. n.d. Accessed July 14, 2021. http://shelleygodwinarchive.org/.

Silva, Leiser. 2007. “Epistemological and Theoretical Challenges for Studying Power and Politics in Information Systems.” Information Systems Journal 17 (2): 165–83. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2575.2007.00232.x.

Simpson, John, and Susan Brown. 2013. “From XML to RDF in the Orlando Project.” Paper presented at International Conference on Culture and Computing, Kyoto, Japan, September 2013. http://dx.doi.org/10.1109/CultureComputing.2013.61.

Srinivasan, Ramesh. 2013. “Re-thinking the Cultural Codes of New Media: The Question Concerning Ontology.” New Media & Society 15 (2): 203–23. https://doi.org/10.1177/1461444812450686.

Star, Susan Leigh, and James R. Griesemer. 1989. “Institutional Ecology, ‘Translations’ and Boundary Objects: Amateurs and Professionals in Berkeley’s Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, 1907–39.” Social Studies of Science 19 (3): 387–420. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F030631289019003001.

Thomas III, William G., Kaci Nash, Laura Weakley, Karin Dalziel, and Jessica Dussault. n.d. O Say Can You See: Early Washington, D.C., Law & Family. University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Accessed July 14, 2021. https://earlywashingtondc.org/.

Turner, Hannah. 2017. “Organizing Knowledge in Museums: A Review of Concepts and Concerns.” Knowledge Organization 44 (7): 472–84. https://doi.org/10.5771/0943-7444-2017-7-472.

Turner, Hannah. 2020. Cataloguing Culture: Legacies of Colonialism in Museum Documentation. Vancouver: UBC Press.

Wikibase. n.d. Accessed July 14, 2021. https://wikiba.se/.

Published

2022-07-27

How to Cite

Canning, Erin, Susan Brown, Sarah Roger, and Kimberley Martin. 2022. “The Power to Structure : Making Meaning from Metadata Through Ontologies”. KULA: Knowledge Creation, Dissemination, and Preservation Studies 6 (3):1-15. https://doi.org/10.18357/kula.169.

Issue

Section

Research Articles