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BIBFRAME  August 2014

BIBFRAME August 2014

Subject:

Re: Proposal to handle "Providers" differently

From:

Thomas Berger <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Fri, 1 Aug 2014 18:53:30 +0200

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Dear Kevin,

> Treating "Provider" as an "Event" would be an improvement, but the proposal
> is actually to do away with the anonymous subgraph (the Provider or Event resource)

Here we are already at the heart of the conflict: One of the problems with
MARC (as I perceived them) was, that it's data structures are "too flat"
and therefore data elements which are tightly bound together cannot express
this (think of MARC 700 - some group of subfields actually represents a
person, other subfields are about that person or about a work of that person
or about relations)


> altogether. And, in reading your email, I found myself wanting to ask:


> Do you (and the community in general) believe we are, or should be, describing /events/ or /manifestations/?

For /describing/ events we have authority files (and yes, there could be
a monograph about Gutenberg publishing his first bible and we could
have a subject authority about that). I do not see a huge difference
between manifestations, persons or corporate bodies when it comes
to events: In the life cycle of these entities there are some drastic
events (like coming into existence) that we have to mention them in
order to achieve a suitable description and identification of that
entity.


> I see it as the latter (describing manifestations), so I feel capturing
> events as little-used anonymous subgraphs is an over-complication.

In authority files we have traditional elements like "date of birth",
"place of birth" and "date of death", "place of death". This is also
a situation where events are "flattened out". It would be equally
justified to qualify "date of birth" (often our central interest)
with the corresponding place, or "place of death" ("died there" could
be just one of the many relations between persons and geographic objects)
with the corresponding date . Or - to denote the central events "birth"
and "death" as tuples of time and place.

Flattening out works because of several peculiarities:

1. These entities never have more than one birth or death event

2. These events are not scattered over multiple places or multiple
   points in time (thus date and place are always in correspondence)

3. We have settled for a fixed catalogue of events (birth, death, burial)
   and assigned individual couples of property names for them.


> I completely acknowledge the feasibility to an Event-based approach to
> publication, manufacturing, producing, etc but would we be modelling these as
> events in the interest of some kind of semantic purity? I also think that, given
> the proposal, if you wanted to /extract/ information from bf:Instances and
> re-model them as Events, then that is entirely possible also.

Sure. And there is a certain danger to drive the event-based approach
to the extreme (most "ordinary" relations between entities could be
turned into "events": X a translation of Y => Y experienced the event
of being translated at spacio-temporal coordinates ABC, resulting in X...


> So, to use you example of:
> 
>> The manufacture of 1000 copies of book X and that of
>> 2000 copies of book Y always are distinct events (even when they happen in
>> the same shop at the same time).
> 
> These would be two distinct instances:
> 
> <http://example.org/book/X> a bf:Instance,
>      bf:manufacturedBy [ a bf:Organization ; bf:label "Manufacturer1" ] ;
>      bf:manufacturedAt [ a bf:Place ; bf:label "London" ] ;
>      bf:manufacturedOn "1966" .
> 
> <http://example.org/book/Y> a bf:Instance,
>      bf:manufacturedBy [ a bf:Organization ; bf:label "Manufacturer1" ] ;
>      bf:manufacturedAt [ a bf:Place ; bf:label "London" ] ;
>      bf:manufacturedOn "1966" ;
> 
> It would be possible to create an Event resource for this example, and
> unambiguously identify it, but I think most of these types of Events would be
> included as anonymous subgraphs (which you're email hints at) with little
> overall benefit. Even if they are identified by HTTP URI, then I am still
> hard-pressed to think of a use case that is not addressable via the current
> proposal and a simple SPARQL query.

My criticism is that the pecularities stated above are not always met,
even in the very straightforward case of manufacture:

1. there may be multiple events of the same type (probably not with
  bf:Instances and "manufacturing" - simply by definition), especially
  items may have been restaurated several times, or manifestations
  got prices for their design or workmanshp - whatever.

2. Manifestations may be manufactured (or published) simultaneously by
  publisher A at place X (or places X1, X2, X3,...) and publisher B at
  place Y, encapsulation as two disctinc events would not be ideal but
  at least prevent association of A with Y

3. Providing coupled and fixed properties for certain well-known events
  cuts us from the opportunity to note any event-like fakt when it is
  deemed necessary


> To put that another way: I'm primarily interested in balancing complication
> with use case in conjunction with the model. If a bf:Instance is a manifestation
> of something /and/ the use case is to /link/ to one type of "event"
> (publication, manufacture, production, distribution) per bf:Instance, /while/
> being able to query for all the things, for example, manufactured by
> Manufacturer1 in London in 1966, then the proposal seems to accommodate that
> criteria.


> That's not to discount your thoughts about this, but to (hopefully) better
> explain where the proposal is coming from. Does this impact your thinking any?

Sadly no: I simply see the danger of turning bf into something too closely
modeled after printed monographs and the mechanisms of the publishing
industry of the 19th and 20th century.


> Anyways, I wanted to conclude with a comment and a question about this:
> 
>> And (anonymous) subgraphs to my knowledge are the best and usually only
>> way to model a non-trivial data structure like needed for "events"
>> in RDF. Trying to flatten that out for some typical library situations IMHO just
>> conceals the general mechanics and - as this discussion has shown so far -
>> introduces a bunch of new problems.
> 
> I've seen a few issues raised about this proposal, but I'm not sure I've
> seen an issue that invalidates it. If, however, there is an issue, I feel it is a
> general desire to attach multiple same-type events to one bf:Instance. The
> example I've seen is with reprints, where the 'original' was published in 2005
> and a reprint issued in 2007 for example. There is a desire to /not/ create
> another bf:Instance for the reprint (and link the one bf:Instance to the other)
> but to relate the first Instance to a /second event/ (the reprint event). That's
> one way to approach the modelling of reprints, but it does not align with BF
> model in its current state, which assumes a manifestation is the result of at
> least one of the following events: production, manufacture, distribution, and
> publication. (A bf:Instance may be the product of multiple events but they
> should not be of the same-type.) Is your disagreement (assuming you do disagree)
> with the fact that multiple same-type events cannot be associated with a single
> Instance (without it becoming super confusing)?

Personally a reprint for me is definively an instance of its own.
However it seems a legitimate question wether the reprint instance
is allowed to (redundantly) state some properties of the original
instance. There might be cases where information in the reprint does
not suffice to set up a complete bf:Instance for the original...

viele Gruesse
Thomas Berger
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