[Crm-sig] Question: How to model a 'file'

Martin Doerr martin at ics.forth.gr
Thu Apr 16 21:46:58 EEST 2020

Dear George,

You are right, this is an open and important question.

I have repeatedly pointed to that issue in CRM-SIG Meetings, but with 
limited response so far.

One part of the discussion had been in CRMInf, about the equivalence of 
a file with a Proposition Set.

The other part has been when introducing P190 has symbolic content. My 
remark is not even in the minutes, that this must be discussed. May be I 
forgot a homework to elaborate this more. Let me expand here a bit my 
current understanding:

This: E41 Appellation p190 has symbolic content df:literal "file name 
value goes here" feeds only the name of the file, which identifies the 
file, into the Appellation. It could be just an rdf label, because the 
content of the Appellation is hardly ambiguous. On the other side, 
reserving another node for the Appellation allows for assigning a type 
"filename" to it. But a filename is anyhow not a good identifier.

If the Digital Object is represented by a URI, e.g., a DOI, the 
remaining question is, if it resolves or can unambiguously be related to 
an external content or not.

If it does, then the identity of this Digital Object should be the 
"primitive" one, its binary identity. I.e., a .pdf and .doc of the same 
scientific publication would be different objects, even a .doc with 
changes in embedded metadata would make it different.

If we mean however that the ontological identity is, for instance, that 
of the equivalence class of possible encodings of one certain 
publication following Springer rules or so, the URI pointing to a binary 
is misleading, because many files can represent the same publication.  
The different encodings will both /incorporate/ and /represent /the 
respective publication, but both properties are not identifying the content.

Therefore, a variation (not subproperty) of P190 should  do it. We have 
again the problem, that we need to form a common superclass with a 
Primitive Value.

Perhaps, once we have done the great step and declared some Primitive 
Values as IsA Appellations, the most elegant form would be to form a 
superclass of E62 String and Digital Object, and raise the range of P190 
to it. This would elegantly make clear that E62 String and Digital 
Object differ only in the fact if they are in or out of the KB proper.

If we do that, the range of P190 will again point to a URI, which, in 
this case, either must be the binary, or a lower representation than the 
level of symbolic specificity given for the domain instance. In any 
case, we should reach at a "tangible" binary, and a suitable type to 
distinguish, if the URI is meant to correspond to a real binary (even if 
no more extent!!), or to a higher level may be useful.

We should also answer the question, how this translates to analogue 
content, because we may copy files manually and re-encode.

After that, we should think about Propositional Objects represented in 

Any thoughts?



On 4/15/2020 8:16 PM, George Bruseker wrote:
> Dear all,
> Here is another humble modelling problem for which I don't feel that 
> there is a commonly agreed and documented answer, although it is a 
> common question. How do we connect an actual file with the semantic 
> network? So here is the scenario.
> I have a file: a word doc, a jpg image, a powerpoint. I want to 
> represent it in CIDOC CRM and connect it the semantic network and do 
> so in a way that would be interoperable with all other well formed 
> instances of CIDOC CRM. How do I do that?
> Well part of the answer is clear. Part is unclear. Regarding the 
> representation of the the fact that there is a digital object we have 
> two choices. If we use pure CRMbase then we have
> E73 p2 has type E55 "Digital Object"
> If we use CRM extensions then we have
> D1 Digital Object
> Great. Now in the semantic network we can relate this in all sorts of 
> standard ways to other entities (p67 refers to, p128 is about) etc. 
> etc. We can use a creation event from CRM base or a digital machine 
> event from CRMdig to document when the file was created, by whom etc. 
> Super. I can use p1 is identified by E41 appellation to indicate the 
> name of that digital object (which may differ from the file name) and 
> give it a type with p2 has type. All standard and wonderful.
> I still have to put the file itself, that actual digital object which 
> I want my user to be able to find and manipulate somehow in relation 
> to the semantic network.
> How do people tend to do that? I have seen many variation but no 
> common method.
> So what is the go-to solution and should it perhaps be documented on 
> the CIDOC CRM site because it is a really common pattern?
> I have seen
> the file = E73... just put the file as the URN of the semantic node. 
> But then this means your file is accessible via a URN which is often 
> not the case and anyhow you probably want to distinguish your semantic 
> node which 'stands for' the file from the actual file itself.
> I have seen and used E41 Appellation as a pattern. So the D1 or E73 p1 
> is identified by E41 Appellation p190 has symbolic content df:literal 
> "file name value goes here". Here you have a problem that you then 
> need also to store somehow a path by which to reach that on some file 
> system.
> I guess another alternative would be to use p190 has symbolic content 
> and then throw the file in there as a blob. I don't particularly like 
> this solution, as I would hope to find strings at the end of p190 and 
> not blobs.
> Would maybe a sub property of p190 'is encoded in file' be an option 
> in order to use the blob solution?
> Anyhow maybe there are already better solutions than I lay out above, 
> but I would be interested to hear. Also I think it would be great to 
> identify the best practice and put in on the main site so that people 
> follow this strategy consistently.
> Probably my examples hide multiple use cases requiring different 
> patterns. Anyhow, what do you think?
> Best,
> George
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  Dr. Martin Doerr
  Honorary Head of the
  Center for Cultural Informatics
  Information Systems Laboratory
  Institute of Computer Science
  Foundation for Research and Technology - Hellas (FORTH)
  N.Plastira 100, Vassilika Vouton,
  GR70013 Heraklion,Crete,Greece
  Email: martin at ics.forth.gr
  Web-site: http://www.ics.forth.gr/isl

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