Layered Information Modeling and a Knowledge Organization Paradigm: Inherent Classification and the Design of Interoperable Systems
In knowledge technology work, as expressed by the scope of this conference, there are a number of communities, each uncovering new methods, theories, and practices. The Library and Information Science (LIS) community is one such community. This community, through tradition and innovation, theories and practice, organizes knowledge and develops knowledge technologies formed by iterative research hewn to the values of equal access and discovery for all. The Information Modeling community is another contributor to knowledge technologies. It concerns itself with the construction of symbolic models that capture the meaning of information and organize it in ways that are computer-based, but human understandable. A recent paper that examines certain assumptions in information modeling builds a bridge between these two communities, offering a forum for a discussion on common aims from a common perspective. In a June 2000 article, Parsons and Wand separate classes from instances in information modeling in order to free instances from what they call the “tyranny” of classes. They attribute a number of problems in information modeling to inherent classification – or the disregard for the fact that instances can be conceptualized independent of any class assignment. By faceting instances from classes, Parsons and Wand strike a sonorous chord with classification theory as understood in LIS. In the practice community and in the publications of LIS, faceted classification has shifted the paradigm of knowledge organization theory in the twentieth century. Here, with the proposal of inherent classification and the resulting layered information modeling, a clear line joins both the LIS classification theory community and the information modeling community. Both communities have their eyes turned toward networked resource discovery, and with this conceptual conjunction a new paradigmatic conversation can take place. Parsons and Wand propose that the layered information model can facilitate schema integration, schema evolution, and interoperability. These three spheres in information modeling have their own connotation, but are not distant from the aims of classification research in LIS. In this new conceptual conjunction, established by Parsons and Ward, information modeling through the layered information model, can expand the horizons of classification theory beyond LIS, promoting a cross-fertilization of ideas on the interoperability of subject access tools like classification schemes, thesauri, taxonomies, and ontologies. This paper examines the common ground between the layered information model and faceted classification, establishing a vocabulary and outlining some common principles. It then turns to the issue of schema and the horizons of conventional classification and the differences between Information Modeling and Library and Information Science. Finally, a framework is proposed that deploys an interpretation of the layered information modeling approach in a knowledge technologies context. In order to design subject access systems that will integrate, evolve and interoperate in a networked environment, knowledge organization specialists must consider a semantic class independence like Parsons and Wand propose for information modeling.
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