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Espoo City Museum, Helsinki University Museum,
National Board of Antiquities, Nokia,TietoEnator
and the National Technology Agency (TEKES).
The major goals of the project are to make
collection metadata, which stem from heterogen-
eous databases, semantically interoperable on the
Web, and to provide facilities for semantic browsing
and searching in the combined knowledge base of
the participating museums.
The project's vision is called "Finnish Museums on
the Semantic Web" (FMS), and its architecture allows
for all Finnish museums to join in. However, in an
approach of starting small but ambitious, the project
is at present using the collection databases of two
museums, the Espoo City Museum and the National
Museum of Finland. Furthermore, the implemen-
tation is currently restricted to only one part of the
collections - textiles.
In order to reach the FMS system's goal of making
the museums' metadata semantically interoperable on
the Web, the data must be harmonised on the syn-
tactic and semantic level. For this harmonisation, the
eXtended Markup Language (XML) and the
Resource Description Framework (RDF) are being
used, of which RDF is the key language for achiev-
ing semantic interoperability of the heterogeneous
sets of metadata.
RDF and Metadata - A Natural Fit
An observer of the diffusion of the Resource
Description Framework (RDF) into various
domains, Robert DuCharme, has commented:
`I still find it a little ironic that while RDF has
gotten so much publicity as a technology for warm
and fuzzy AI (Artificial Intelligence) pie-in-the-sky
technology, it's gotten most of its traction in the
mundane world of metadata.
3
Yet, given the importance of metadata for the
Semantic Web vision in general, it does not come as
a surprise that metadata of key information com-
munities belong to the first of RDF's intended uses.
RDF seems to gain momentum in particular among
the library and other communities that use Dublin
Core.
The actual W3C RDF Primer (Working Draft
23 January 2003), edited by Frank Manola and Eric
Miller, labels RDF as `an ideal representation for
Dublin Core information' and describes Dublin Core
as one of their `RDF in the field' examples. (Cf.
http://www.w3.org/TR/rdf-primer/)
At the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (DCMI),
`Expressing Simple Dublin Core in RDF/XML' was
announced as a DCMI Recommendation in October
2002, `the first in a series of recommendations for
encoding Dublin Core metadata using mainstream
Web technologies', i.e. XML/RDF/XHTML.
`Expressing Qualified Dublin Core in RDF/XML'
is currently a Proposed Recommendation. Cf.
http://dublincore.org/groups/architecture/
Syntactic Transformation /1:
Creating the XML Documents
In the FMS system, the eXtended Markup Language
(XML) is used as the data transfer format.This trans-
fer format enables the system to make use of the data
originally stored in the museums' heterogeneous
collection databases.Therefore, each museum parti-
cipating in the FMS initiative provides the relevant
collection data as an XML document repository.
In a process of syntactic harmonisation, the data
from a museum's collection database are retrieved
and transformed to an XML format conforming to
the XML Schema of the FMS initiative.
The data to be published are read from the data-
base through a `view', which helps create the XML
format.The view is a queryable interface, a virtual
table that results from an SQL query, which may join
multiple tables of the database.Through the view, the
data are queried so that the rows of the tables are
grouped by collection items. For each item, the set
of rows is combined into a single XML document.
XML
XML is a markup language for describing data. It
is a language created to allow anyone to design the
structure of their own documents. An XML docu-
ment contains text that consists of markup in the
form of tags and plain text between them, the latter
being just pure information (for example,
<creator>Alexander Master</creator>). XML tags
are not predefined; everyone can define his or her
own tags.
DigiCULT 27
FMS Documents:
A short presentation is provided
in: Eero Hyv÷nen, et al.:
Cultural Semantic Inter-
operability on the Web: Case
Finnish Museums Online,
tp://iswc2002.semanticweb.org/
posters/hyvonen_a4.pdf; for
detailed descriptions, see:Vilho
Raatikka, Eero Hyv÷nen:
Ontology-based Semantic
Metadata Validation; and
Hyv÷nen, Eero et al.: Semantic
Interoperability on the Web:
Case Finnish Museums Online.
Both texts can be found in:
Towards the Semantic Web and
eb Services. Proceedings of the
ML Finland 2002 Conference,
http://www.cs.helsinki.fi/u/
eahyvone/xmlfinland2002/
ProceedingsXML2002-final.pdf