The Notion of the “Concept Instance”: Problems in Modeling Concept Change in SKOS
Tennis, Joseph T.
Sutton, Stuart A.
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The U.S. National Science Foundation metadata registry under development for the National Science Digital Library (NSDL) is a repertory intended to manage both metadata schemes and schemas. The focus of this draft discussion paper is on the scheme side of the development work. In particular, the concern of the discussion paper is with issues around the creation of historical snapshots of concept changes and their encoding in SKOS. Through framing the problem as we see it, we hope to find an optimal solution to our need for a SKOS encoding of these snapshots. Since what we are seeking to model is concept change, it is necessary at the outset to make it clear that we are not talking about changes to a concept of such a nature that would require the declaration a new concept with its own URI.In the project, we avoid the use of the terms “version” and “versioning” with regard to changes in concepts and reserve their use to the significant changes of schemes as a whole. Significant changes triggering a new scheme version might include changes in scheme documentation that express a significant shift in the purpose, use or architecture of the scheme. We use the term “snapshot” to denote the state of a scheme at identifiable points in time. Thus, snapshots are identifiable views of a scheme that record the incremental changes that have occurred to concepts, relationships among concepts, and scheme documentation since the last snapshot. Aspects of concept change occur that we need to capture and make available both through the registry and through potentially in transmission of a scheme to other registries. We call these capturings “concept instances.”
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