development could begin, basic classifications and
methodologies would be required to form a foun-
dation for the work.
Italian online publisher, Marco Meli, a manager
of the EU's MESMUSES (Metaphors for Science
Museums) project, insisted: `You need a clear defi-
nition in this particular domain.What are the key
words, the terms?'
Mr Guarino answered: `The key concepts and the
By now, the Darmstadt 13 were beginning to
realise they were not having much luck with their
search for the Semantic Grail.Their discussion
became a little tetchy.
Someone talked about `meta-ontology', and
another growled: `The term "meta" is abused'.
`Outdated technical optimism' was mentioned.
`What is your alternative?' someone else wanted
`I don't have one.'
`Is this the way forward?'
Metaphors for Science Museums
MESMUSES is an IST RTD project that will run
until July 2003. It aims at designing a general method
and supporting tools to produce knowledge maps
for use in self-learning environments of science
museums. In the project, a knowledge map is defined
as a set of related concepts and facts that is offered to
learners with some guidance or suggestions on
possible itineraries that they may follow to explore
the knowledge space.
The method and tools developed in MESMUSES
are being tested and validated by two large science
museums, the Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie in
Paris and the Istituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza
in Florence, which provide access to their digital
catalogues. Both museums are developing knowledge
maps and itineraries on different themes in Biology
(Genome) and Physics (Galileo and the laws of
Project Web site:
See also: M. Meli: Knowledge Management: a new
challenge for science museums. In: Cultivate Interactive,
Issue 9, 7 February 2003, http://www.cultivate-
`What part of the problem would that solve?'
`We will know when we have tried that out.'
`Here we are approaching a scary field.'
Civility and peace were restored as Frank Nack,
the CWI Netherlands scientist, introduced the
thought: `There are ontologies for art and they are
very old and well crafted.There are very clear rules
about why they did what they did because they have
worked on them for a thousand years.What you
could suggest is that we strip down to the basics for
one field, say art, and apply it to all the other fields
we have in cultural heritage, architecture, film,
whatever, all working with very different substances.'
Seamus Ross added: `So we need one fundamental
ontology on which we can build all the others.'
The luck of the 13 was beginning to change.The
Athenian heritage informatics expert Dr Dallas
described work among his company clients on
developing `an upper ontology'. All the issues the
Forum had been discussing, what to do about time, a
basic concepts process, agents, and so on were being
examined.They were beginning to develop
`something very much like a thesaurus' with term
expansion that created sub-categories of relationships.
He called it `generic layering', a process that could
identify the `generic grammar' of relationships within
a specific domain - art history, for example.
`This is useful', he said. `This way, we can create
Web systems that present an association of content
for users that is meaningful to them. Let's say a
Nicola Guarino went further. He believed that the
International Council of Museums' Committee for
Documentation (CIDOC) Conceptual Reference
Model (CRM) was the `best starting point' for the
heritage community.The CIDOC CRM is the result
of 10 years' work by a standards working group.The