Alistair Miles

Category: kos

Request for Comments — SKOS Reference — W3C Working Draft 25 January 2008

The W3C Semantic Web Deployment Working Group has announced the publication of the SKOS Reference as a W3C First Public Working Draft:

This is a substantial update to and replacement for the previous SKOS Core Vocabulary Specification W3C Working Draft dated 2 November 2005. The publication has been announced in the W3C news, and a request for comments has been sent to various mailing lists.

The abstract from this new specification:

This document defines the Simple Knowledge Organization System (SKOS), a common data model for sharing and linking knowledge organization systems via the Semantic Web.

Many knowledge organization systems, such as thesauri, taxonomies, classification schemes and subject heading systems, share a similar structure, and are used in similar applications. SKOS captures much of this similarity and makes it explicit, to enable data and technology sharing across diverse applications.

The SKOS data model provides a standard, low-cost migration path for porting existing knowledge organization systems to the Semantic Web. SKOS also provides a light weight, intuitive language for developing and sharing new knowledge organization systems. It may be used on its own, or in combination with formal knowledge representation languages such as the Web Ontology language (OWL).

This document is the normative specification of the Simple Knowledge Organization System. It is intended for readers who are involved in the design and implementation of information systems, and who already have a good understanding of Semantic Web technology, especially RDF and OWL.

For an informative guide to using SKOS, see the upcoming SKOS Primer.


Using SKOS, conceptual resources can be identified using URIs, labeled with lexical strings in one or more natural languages, documented with various types of note, linked to each other and organized into informal hierarchies and association networks, aggregated into concept schemes, and mapped to conceptual resources in other schemes. In addition, labels can be related to each other, and conceptual resources can be grouped into labeled and/or ordered collections.

Gardens of Meaning … or why the Semantic Web is for Vulcans

I gave a presentation entitled Gardens of Meaning … or why the Semantic Web is for Vulcans to the Oxfordshire Semantic Web Interest Group this week. The presentation works towards the motivation behind the Gardens of Meaning metaphor, via an informal and somewhat ironic poke at some of the hype associated with the Semantic Web vision. The joke is that the Semantic Web depends on people being able to share their “conceptualisations” with each other, and then express those conceptualisations formally using an ontology language, neither of which is easy … if only we were Vulcans, we could mind meld and, of course, we would have dedicated our lives to pure logic.

The Value Grid for Semantic Technologies

I’ve submitted a paper entitled “The Value Grid for Semantic Technologies” to the workshop on Issues in Ontology Development and Use to be held as part of the UK e-Science All Hands Meeting later this year. The paper is available for download from the following URL:


This paper situates formal ontologies as one of many products in a multi-tier value grid of semantic technologies. Incremental strategies for the exploitation of intermediate products in the value grid are discussed, as a possible step towards cost-effective, low-risk and scalable business models for the exploitation of semantic technologies. A case study is presented, illustrating a hypothetical value grid for the management of scientific data from a large-scale experimental facility. Suggestions are made for the design of predictable, repeatable collaborative processes for adding value in semantic technology value grids.

A Thesaurus Data Model for British Standard 8723

The working group producing the new BS 8723 standard for thesauri (structured vocabularies) is currently focusing on the issue of standard formats for interchange of thesaurus data. At a recent meeting it was concluded that a (semi-)formal data model for thesaurus data, using some sort of establishing modeling language, would be a good starting point.

Here is my first attempt to use UML to capture the data model expressed informally as prose in BS 8723 part 2 (monolingual thesauri). The UML was generated using StarUML which is free, and I read this tutorial on UML. I’ve tried to be as faithful to BS 8723 part 2 as possible and capture no more than what is expressed therein nor add any interpretation …

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