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model is under review for adoption as an Inter-
national Standards Organisation (ISO) publication.
Mr Guarino was enthusiastic: `I am not biased on
this. I am a reviewer on the CHIOS project that
supports this proposal for an ISO standard, and I am
amazed by the fact that this standard is more or less
principled. On the one hand the authors really strive
to get these principled things, and on the other hand
they have extensively accounted for existing practice.
It is the result of a large community of work. It is
not perfect but it really is a starting point for this
He affirmed Dr Ross's delighted question:
`So this is an ontology we can borrow?'
And the Italian expert had more to add: `The
question before was "how can we be sure that the
principled things can really solve our problems?".
I do not have a crisp answer, but I do have some
evidence that even a tiny result on the foundational
side has a high pay-off. So you do not need to solve
all the foundational issues.'
The distinctions between an object and its role
or individual and classes of items were delicate but,
once understood, could lead to significant data
improvement, he said, adding: `Take, for instance,
the distinction between object and event.This is
only one tiny distinction but it is so fundamental
that, once you understand it, you can save time in
developing your own application ontology.Tiny
conceptual progress does have a high pay-off.This
is why I believe it is useful.'
There were still one or two doubts, but CULTOS
project co-ordinator Wernher Behrendt tidied up
with a daring stance: `Let me be a heretic for a
second. How many of us have an operating system
other than Windows? What I am saying is that
standardisation often helps. Even if it is not the best
standard, it does help get people working together...
It is perfectly fair to define a standard for the world,
now.There will be a lot of discussion but it will wind
down to a few constructs. It is a better method of
getting an ontology accepted than having ontologies
mushrooming all over the place that must then be
The Darmstadt 13 were pleased.They had a
model.They had `Web Services' stepping stones to
work across.They weren't going to fall into the trap
of insisting just yet that the Semantic Web was
important for the heritage sector, but they wanted
an education process for unconvinced curators.
They needed someone to make the first ontology
move. Seamus Ross suggested asking the J. Paul Getty
Trust ( needed auto-
mated tools for testing ontologies.They did not want
to be delivered into the entertainment industry, but
saw benefit in what University of Florence Associate
Professor, Franco Niccolucci, called `cultural
So, where would the experts put their money?
asked Mr Behrendt. `On there not being any benefits
in the Semantic Web for the cultural heritage sector
or there being some benefits in building such things,
whatever they may be?'
Amsterdamer Frank Nack was in no doubt: `It is
going to happen. It will probably look very different
from how we imagine it right now, but it is going
to happen.' His countryman, ADLIB chief Bert
Degenhart-Drenth, thought so too: `We have put
our money there. All our applications work with
XML. ' And Dr van Kersen agreed: `I would put
my money on the Semantic Web.'
That seemed to make it game, set and match.
CIDOC CRM: `The Semantic Glue'
The `CIDOC object-oriented Conceptual
Reference Model' (CIDOC CRM) was developed
by the ICOM/CIDOC Documentation Standards
Group. Since September 2000, the CIDOC CRM is
being developed into an ISO standard.
`The CIDOC CRM is intended to promote a
shared understanding of cultural heritage information
by providing a common and extensible semantic
framework to which any cultural heritage
information can be mapped. It is intended to be a
common language for domain experts and
implementers to formulate requirements for
information systems and to serve as a guide for good
practice in conceptual modelling. In this way, it can
provide the "semantic glue" needed to mediate
between different sources of cultural heritage
information, such as that published by museums,
libraries and archives.'
CHIOS - Cultural Heritage Interchange
Ontology Standardization project
Since June 2001, the work of the CIDOC CRM
Special Interest Group has been supported by
CHIOS, a two-year project which receives funding
from the Fifth Framework IST Programme.The
CHIOS consortium forms an integral part of the
CIDOC CRM Special Interest Group which, by
organising shared meetings, represents the interests
and requirements of the cultural heritage community
to the ISO Working Group (ISO/TC46/SC4/WG9).