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published: March 2004
analytic scripts updated:
November 7, 2010

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0  License

The CIDOC Conceptual Reference Model, a Tool for Integrating Cultural Information
Martin Doerr, Foundation for Research and Technology - Hellas (FORTH), Greece

Workshop: CIDOC Model

This tutorial will introduce the audience to the CIDOC Conceptual Reference Model (CRM), a top-level ontology and proposed ISO standard for the semantic integration of cultural information. It is currently in the Committee Draft stage of the ISO process, registered under ISO/AWI21127. The tutorial will explain the scope and objectives of the model. It will detail on its construction principles and major concepts it defines. In contrast to most ontologies, the CRM concentrates on the definition of properties (relationships), rather than classes, in order to capture the underlying semantics of multiple data and metadata structures of a very wide domain. This leads to a rather compact model, easy to comprehend and suitable to be supported by wide consensus in the interested community and consequently as international standard. The CRM is compatible with the most relevant data and metadata formats used by museums, archives and libraries.

In order to use the model for information integration, respective user data structures have to be mapped to the model, so that the data contents can be transformed automatically into a CRM compatible form and be merged. In the sequence, the transformed information can be accessed by database or Web technology. Implementations may relate the integrated information to its sources, so that it serves as an index of ultimate precision and detail. Alternatively, the mappings can be used to transform queries that are based on CRM concepts into queries against local data structures and return uniform answers from a multitude of heterogeneous databases. Finally, the CRM can provide a uniform structure for data exchange, migration, preservation and may serve as intellectual guide to create information systems for the domain.

The mapping is the critical step, in which the domain expert is needed. All other steps to an integrated information system can be executed by IT experts. The mapping also reveals compatibility of user data structures with the CRM and can be a guide for users to good conceptual modelling practice. The tutorial will explain in practical examples and exercises how to map a data structure to the CIDOC CRM and demonstrate the data transformation. Participants are invited to bring examples of their data structures to the workshop.

Target audience:

IT-Staff and system designers of museums and archives, vendors of cultural information systems, system integrators, digital library designers, data warehouse designers, portal designers, which work in the wider area of cultural and library information.