Re: [announcement] DSpace Scraper - Reloaded

From: Stefano Mazzocchi <>
Date: Wed, 10 Aug 2005 12:34:55 -0700

Matthew Cockerill wrote:
> In the real world of bibliographic systems, tools are in wide use that can and do map data between different bibliographic systems such as
> PubMed XML format
> Crossref piped format
> EndNote export format
> Bibtex format
> BioMed Central native XML format
> OpenURL format
> RSS/Dublin Core format
> etc
> The mappings that achieve this are not perfect. But the results that are achieved by having these mappings are real, and are profoundly important.
> I think there's a danger that issues like this can be negelected as being "provably unanswerable", when in fact the utility of the partial solutions that can be achieved is undervalued.

You got me wrong.

You asked "what is the best ontology" and I said "there is no such thing".

If you asked "what is the way that we can make best use of existing
bibliographic data for people that need it", I would have given you a
different answer.

The first question has an implicit assumption: that implicit ontological
collision helps in semantic interoperability. I am more and more
convinced this is a myth.

The second question has the problem at heart and not a given solution.
That's the path I like to explore.

> In fact, weirdly, I remember spending weeks having exactly this debate in 1995, when I wanted to add EndNote format export to our Evaluated MEDLINE system (at the time, pre-PubMed, it was the first free web medline). The lead developer on the project was strongly opposed to adding EndNote export, since it was messy - the data didn't fit quite right, and it didn't fit with the elegance of the rest of the project. But when we finally introduced the EndNote download option, it was by far the most frequently used and praised aspect of the service.

And this is exactly why I don't want to spend any time debating whether
one format is bigger/better than another.

We should give the ability for people to convert their data to a common
'model' (in and out) and then give people (not necessarely them) the
ability to map them together.

I would much rather talk on how to implement the above than to discuss
whether format/ontology A is better than format/ontology B... as, as I
mentioned, this question has no answer.

Stefano Mazzocchi
Research Scientist                 Digital Libraries Research Group
Massachusetts Institute of Technology            location: E25-131C
77 Massachusetts Ave                   telephone: +1 (617) 253-1096
Cambridge, MA  02139-4307              email: stefanom at mit . edu
Received on Wed Aug 10 2005 - 19:31:00 EDT

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