Saturday, February 12, 2005

Moving the conceptual to the practical

I'm starting to work now on a project where activities are framed according to the Open Archival Information Systems (OAIS) Reference Model. I've heard and read about OAIS before, but I haven't spent much time thinking about how it relates to some of my daily activities. The OAIS is a conceptual model--it's not a system for storing archival information; rather, it's a high-level description of the functions of such a system. Our challenge is to develop systems that provide the services described in the model. As I've said before, I'm a "big-picture" kind of person. But it's still difficult sometimes to transform the ideas from a high-level description like OAIS into practice. I'm hoping I can rise to the challenge and develop good practical products that clearly relate to the overall goal.

I belive this problem of translating between the conceptual to the practical is one of the main barriers to FRBR adoption. I think many people misunderstand that FRBR is a conceptual model, not a metadata model, not a system design. And even for those that do, it's a challenge to think theoretically about how that model would be implemented in a production environment. Most FRBR discussion today revolves around how things would look, should they be built. The more implementations we build, the more convincing the argument for its benefits will be.

Perhaps my thoughts on the DC Abstract Model recently are related to this issue as well. Perhaps I'm slightly uncomfortable with the abstract model because it was released (and developed?) so long after DC itself. Or perhaps I'm uncomfortable because I don't yet have a good understanding of how the abstract model translates to use of the schema.

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