[Crm-sig] ISSUE Form and persistence of RDF identifiers

Robert Sanderson RSanderson at getty.edu
Mon Jan 22 19:12:34 EET 2018

An interesting investigation would be to try and reuse existing terms from well-known ontologies, rather than creating yet another one.

To Martin’s point about just renaming all the things … that sounds easy in theory, but in the distributed real world of implementations and datasets, in practice it means that everyone needs to support all of the different permutations as there’s always some product or some piece of data that hasn’t updated to the most recent version.

One small benefit would be that new serializations like JSON-LD would have more liberty to assert their own mappings over top of the alphanumeric designations, rather than feeling beholden to the labels.  Of course for every other serialization it’s going to be completely unintelligible and thereby unusable.


From: Crm-sig <crm-sig-bounces at ics.forth.gr> on behalf of Richard Light <richard at light.demon.co.uk>
Date: Monday, January 22, 2018 at 6:37 AM
To: "crm-sig at ics.forth.gr" <crm-sig at ics.forth.gr>
Subject: Re: [Crm-sig] ISSUE Form and persistence of RDF identifiers

On 19/01/2018 13:36, Martin Doerr wrote:
Dear All,

We never continue an alphanumeric designation when there is a significant change in definition. You can take for granted that continuing the
designation means that the change is not significant.

The case below (P148) should be due to an internal processing problem, and will never reoccur. It is characteristically the last property of this edition.
The reason, if I am not wrong, was that we got out of sync with the ISO version with the latest changes. Since the ISO team does in general not respect our
continuity concerns when there was parallel work, we had some times the bitter choice between our continuity and not to create a different branch from ISO for
typical reasons. Probably should have been explicitly justified.
OK, thanks for the explanation.  Though I don't understand why 'ISO' (who, exactly?) was doing active development work on the CRM.  I thought that they simply took the SIG's work through the ISO formalization process.

Since we have discussed for years the issues with changing labels, I repeat quickly the reasons:
Labels are taken for mnemonics, and people associate, even they shouldn't, semantics with it.
Therefore labels change when they render better the concept and serious misunderstandings can be reduced following explicit community requests.
The fact that the alphanumeric code is continued, marks absolutely clear that this is a change of name and not meaning.
Labels are also translated, and work as mnemonics of the respective language.
Therefore labels are not part of the definition.

The rest are considerations of use, and a question of utilities, which cannot dictate our practice.
Anyone working in an IT environment should have access to someone doing the trivial task of mapping label changes in his S/W,
if he has chosen to include labels in the URIs without "same_as" statements. Please consider in your requirements, that continuity of meaning is as important as comprehensibility. We cannot follow advise which considers only one side of the medal.
I think that this argument is perfectly valid for the 'Definition of CRM' document.  However, by publishing an RDFS expression of the CRM we are moving, whether we like it or not, into the realm of 'utilities'.  People are picking up and using our RDFS definitions in a variety of ways.  In this particular implementation context, I would argue that we should ensure that there is a label-free version of each CRM class and property.  Also, our guidance on the use of our RDFS implementation should recommend the use of this label-free version, on the grounds that we cannot guarantee the stability of the version which includes a label.

This talk of preferred labels and your mention of the labels in other languages leads me to wonder whether anyone has produced a SKOS version of the CRM.  This might be a useful exposition of the logic of the CRM, expressed in a format which is widely used and supported.  We could have 'preferred labels' for each concept in as many languages as we like.  A SKOS version would be no use for instance data, because each SKOS concept is itself an instance, in OWL terms, but it might be a powerful tool for expressing relationships between concepts in different schemes, i.e. exactly the purpose for which the CRM was originally created.  Thoughts, anyone?

Best wishes,


F10 was deliberately declared as "F" in FRBRoo to be an FRBRoo concept "same as" E21, for didactic reasons. There is no continuity break.

Please let me know if there is anything wrong with this.

All the best,


Richard Light
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