[Crm-sig] Call for Comments

Christian-Emil Ore c.e.s.ore at iln.uio.no
Tue Apr 19 11:39:20 EEST 2011

Dear all,
Øyvind's comment reminded me that I promised Martin to write a comment.

There are several points here

One is Øyvind's comment about a text for non technical persons. I agree 
with him that a non technical person may need a text that is easier to
understand. I assume Øyvind has in mind both the text on the web site
and the text Mika and Martin wrote in Shanghai and later.

There is a need for a system for unique identifiers for museum objects
and also for all kinds of sites and monuments. There are several reasons
for this not only to avoid a mess introduced by the eager semantic web
people. In fact there has been a project dealing with this for the last 
20 years (sigh), namely Object-id.

A very important task is the fight against theft and illicit trade. 
Object ID is/has been a joint effort by UNESCO, Getty and ICOM
to establish a set of guidelines for documenting artefacts in a way
making it easier for the police and customs officers to detect stolen
objects (see http://archives.icom.museum/object-id/index.html). This
project has existed for two decades. It is however, not systematically
implemented in the museum sector. This may give us an indicator
of how problematic (challenge is too weak) the implementation of an 
internationally unique identifier for museum objects is.

CIDOC's working group on documentation, chaired by Richard Light, has 
since at least 2004 worked on principles for museum documentation and 
has excellent job on defining a set of principles for documentation
of museum objects (Statement of principles of museum documentation
http://cidoc.icom.museum/principles6.pdf. I quote
two of the principles:

10. Each object must be assigned a unique number or identifier, which
should be recorded within the documentation system. The object should be
marked or labelled with the number. The location of the object should be
recorded within the documentation system, irrespective of whether the
object is in its normal location or has been moved to another location,
such as a conservation laboratory.

11. In the event of the loss or theft of an object, the museum should be
able to provide law enforcement agencies with information and images
that can be used to help with its recovery, such as its unique
number, production date or period, maker, materials, measurements,
physical condition and distinguishing features. The Object ID standard
provides guidelines on the concepts that are appropriate
for this purpose.

We can see that the principles state that each object shall have a
unique identifier (with respect to the museum collection in question).
To be useful for, say the police, the identifier need extra information
about the museum in which it is used. So a uri based on the object's
museum identifier and the museum is an excellent solution.

How do we proceed? A clear schema for the construction of such global 
URIs can be added as an appendix to the Principles. The principles as 
such should be accepted and adopted by ICOM as a formal recommendation 
on the same level as  the ICOM code of ethics.

When I was Chair of CIDOC (2004-2010) I approached ICOM centrally  to 
make this an item on the  agenda of ICOM's Advisory Board meetings and 
of the General Assembly of ICOM. Unfortunately I did not succeed.

ICOM has (at least then) too many internal problems. In addition the 
executive board of ICOM is in general reluctant to adopt new  documents 
of this kind. There is a  worry that such documents will be just empty 
statements never implemented. As far as I know the organisation this is 
a well founded worry.

Still I think it is extremely important to work for an official ICOM
stamp on the Statements of documentation principles with recomondation 
for the construction of Object URI.

One should also contact Getty and UNESCO. Sites and monuments are not 
ICOM's domain, thus we should contact
ICOMOS, www.icomos.org.

The final question is who are 'we'? I have no formal position in the 
ICOM system and is only a lay member. The formally correct persons are 
the current members of respectively Chair of CRM-SIG (E74 Group) and the 
Chair of ICOM-CIDOC (E74 Group) or persons entitled by those.


On 18.04.2011 20:03, Øyvind Eide wrote:
> Dear Martin,
>  From a museum professional with some, but not a lot of knowledge  
> about computer systems and with a strong interest in the work of  
> CIDOC, I received a comment about the scope of this recommendation  
> along the following lines:
>  > If it is meant for only IT professionals it is fine, but if it is  
> also meant to be understood
>  > also by ordinary "stupid" (her expression) museums curators, a  
> simpler version of
>  > the text is also needed.
> Could it be an idea to work with some individuals on the non-technical  
> side in museums, possibly also managers, in order to write a short,  
> simplified version of the recommendations?
> Kind regards,
> Øyvind Eide
> Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
> Unit for Digital Documentation, University of Oslo
> Den 21. mars. 2011 kl. 17.02 skrev martin:
>> Dear All,
>> Your comments on http://www.cidoc-crm.org/URIs_and_Linked_Open_Data.html
>> will be most welcome!
>> Best,
>> Martin
>> -- 
>> --------------------------------------------------------------
>>  Dr. Martin Doerr              |  Vox:+30(2810)391625        |
>>  Research Director             |  Fax:+30(2810)391638        |
>>                                |  Email: martin at ics.forth.gr |
>>                                                              |
>>                Center for Cultural Informatics               |
>>                Information Systems Laboratory                |
>>                 Institute of Computer Science                |
>>    Foundation for Research and Technology - Hellas (FORTH)   |
>>                                                              |
>>  Vassilika Vouton,P.O.Box1385,GR71110 Heraklion,Crete,Greece |
>>                                                              |
>>          Web-site: http://www.ics.forth.gr/isl               |
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