Supporting Complexity and Conjectures in Cultural Heritage Descriptions
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionCEUR Workshop Proceedings. 2021, 2810 104-115.
Dataand metadata once hidden in dusty card cabinets ofthousands of galleries, libraries, archives and museums worldwide are nowavailable online in digital formats. An incredible explosion of metadatahas been expanding in the quantity of digitized data, the richness andsophistication of data models, the number of institutions and privatecitizens that contribute and their interconnection.A fundamental issue, however, limits this undeniable success: currentdata models force the expression of a single point of view. For example,the fieldauthoris either set to a value or to another one. Any disagree-ment about the content of a field is resolved before the publication ofthe data and forever lost.Yet, we argue, the expression of different and contrasting points of viewsis a keystone of scholarship, as well as one of the most engaging aspectsfor everyone. Bowdlerized, sterile, conflict-free data records fails to cap-ture the core of important scholarly debates and thus fails to attractthe interest of the general public. The root cause of this issue is techni-cal rather than cultural: current standards for data models (e.g. RDF,OWL) do not simply support the expression of contrasting statements.In this paper we propose both a methodological approach to address thisproblem, and a proof of concept of how this problem could be fully andcleanly overcome with modest extensions to the existing standards. Wename this approach “contexts and conjectures”