[Crm-sig] Bias in the CRM

Robert Sanderson azaroth42 at gmail.com
Mon Mar 8 22:02:49 EET 2021

Happy to join as well. I'm co-chair for the Bias Awareness and
Responsibility Committee for Cultural Heritage at Yale University, and
happy to share our experiences in that work. This is especially relevant to
our work as we move to adopt CIDOC-CRM (via Linked Art) as our baseline

Some readings that we found useful:

https://doi.org/10.1080/0270319X.2019.1696069 -- "Aliens" vs Catalogers:
Bias in the Library of Congress Subject Headings
https://journals.litwinbooks.com/index.php/jclis/article/view/120 --
Cultural Humility as a Framework for Anti-Oppressive Archival Description
https://doi.org/10.1111/cura.12191 -- Coming Together to Address Systemic
Racism in Museums
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MbrC0yvBCNo&ab_channel=CollectionsTrust --
Decolonizing the Database by Dr Errol Francis
And, in print media: Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce
Racism by Sufiya Noble of UCLA

A colleague and I presented about our work at EuroMed2020:  Libraries,
Archives and Museums are not Neutral: Working Toward Eliminating Systemic
Bias and Racism in Cultural Heritage Information Systems
Youtube capture of the zoom: https://youtu.be/V9-IHQQv-LY?t=26661

>From a CIDOC-CRM perspective, I think there are several issues to grapple
with, including those that were brought up today.
Some differentiation I would try to draw, and without presumption that the
answer for any of them is positive or negative:

* Ontology Features
 -- does the data structure described by the ontology introduce, require or
reinforce biases (especially harmful ones)?
 -- does the ontology preclude use or engagement with different communities
- is it accessible or are there barriers to entry that limit usage to
certain communities, thereby introducing bias through exclusion

* Documentation of the Ontology
  -- does the documentation about the ontology introduce, require or
reinforce biases?
  -- is the documentation accessible to broad and diverse communities?
  -- is the documentation transparent about issues that are known or
presumed to exist

* Methodology of determining the Ontology
  -- does the way we produce the ontology, from ideation to
standardization, introduce, require or reinforce biases
  -- is the methodology accessible to broad and diverse communities for
  -- is the methodology transparent as to how it works, and accountable
when it doesn't?

* Implementations and Instances of the Ontology
  -- I think these are useful as second-order evidence, but that we should
not be too involved or prescriptive.

And some micro-topics and thoughts, which are more opinionated:

* P48 Has Preferred Identifier -- this breaks the very beneficial "neutral
standpoint" design decision. We should deprecate it for this reason, quite
apart from the issue on the docket that it should be deprecated as an
outmoded design pattern.

* E31 Document, E32 Authority Document vs E73 Information Object -- The
need to distinguish "propositions about reality" and "terminology or
conceptual systems" from other information seems to introduce subjectivity
and the potential therein for harmful biases as to what constitutes "truth"
or "reality", and what is a "terminology" versus what is just a word



On Mon, Mar 8, 2021 at 12:25 PM Anaïs Guillem via Crm-sig <
crm-sig at ics.forth.gr> wrote:

> Dear Thanasis, all,
> Some digital humanists work and publish on this question of bias in
> digital humanities: here is an example of very a propos publication:
> https://journals.dartmouth.edu/cgi-bin/WebObjects/Journals.woa/xmlpage/4/article/425
> I gathered myself bibliography about decolonizing knowledge and
> methodology especially in digital project. I could join the discussion of
> your working group if you want.
> Cheers,
> Anais
> Le mer. 3 mars 2021 à 14:58, Athanasios Velios <thanasis at softicon.co.uk>
> a écrit :
>> Dear all,
>> In version 7.1 a short but important sentence has been added at the end
>> of the scope section:
>> "Discussions on the types of bias present in the CIDOC CRM are in
>> progress within the CIDOC CRM community."
>> Issue 530 is used to track the discussions here:
>> http://cidoc-crm.org/Issue/ID-530-bias-in-data-structure
>> It is important to engage in this discussion so that we first understand
>> the issues around bias and privileged positions and then how these may
>> or may not impact the development of the model.
>> We will then be more confident in making a more complete statement is
>> future versions. Issue 530 is scheduled to be discussed at the community
>> session of the forthcoming meeting.
>> Looking forward to it.
>> All the best,
>> Thanasis
>> _______________________________________________
>> Crm-sig mailing list
>> Crm-sig at ics.forth.gr
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> --
> Anaïs Guillem
> Architect-archaeologist
> +33 630005089
> _______________________________________________
> Crm-sig mailing list
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Rob Sanderson
Director for Cultural Heritage Metadata
Yale University
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