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Resource Description Framework (RDF)

Resource Description Framework, in short RDF, is a family of World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) specifications originally designed as a metadata data model. It has come to be used as a general method for conceptual description or modeling of information that is implemented in web resources, using a variety of syntax notations and data serialization formats.

RDF is based on the principle of object and subject and the relation between them. The relation is a predicate. Object, subject and predicate are RDF triples. SKOS, developed to express knowledge information systems such as controlled vocabularies and exchangeable in RDF, is completely built on triples.

Explore further the Linked Heritage learning object: Terminology.

See also: OWL, Semantic Web, SKOS



Schema, or scheme, also called metadata schema, is a set of metadata elements designed for a specific purpose, such as describing a particular information resource, defining a framework for representing metadata. The definition or meaning of the elements themselves is known as the semantics of the schema. The values given to metadata elements are the content. Metadata schemas generally specify names of elements and their semantics. Examples of metadata schemas are Dublin Core, ESE, EDM, PICO.

Explore further the Linked Heritage learning objects: MINT Services and Terminology.

See also: Element, Metadata


Semantic Web

The Semantic Web, also referred to as the Web of Data, can be defined as a group of methods and technologies to allow machine  (application) to understand the meaning (or "semantics") of information (data) on the Web. According to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), "The Semantic Web provides a common framework that allows data to be shared and reused across application, enterprise, and community boundaries", to achieve better search results, irrespective of language. This can be done by automatically linking “separate” data on the web. When every concept is interlinked as an equivalent, synonym, broader or narrower concept or via any other relator, the web can optimize search results. This will engage greater visibility and easier access to information. The term was coined by Tim Berners-Lee for a web of data that can be processed by machines.

Explore further the Linked Heritage learning objects: Terminology and Linking Cultural Heritage Information

See also: Linked data, Linked open data, Resource Description Framework (RDF), Simple Knowledge Organization System (SKOS), XML

Simple Knowledge Organization System (SKOS)

SKOS or Simple Knowledge Organization System is a formal data model developed by World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to enhance linked open data in the (semantic) web. It is a standard that translates knowledge information systems such as thesauri, classification systems etc. in RDF-triples (SKOS/RDF). Controlled vocabularies structure information via hierarchical, equivalence and associative relations and contain scope notes, translations and other additional information on specific terms. This information can be made accessible on the web when the controlled vocabulary is converted to SKOS. In SKOS the term and all the information it contains is expressed in URIs. This is why in SKOS they are called concepts. In a controlled vocabulary, the term is important, whereas in SKOS, the URI is important. URIs form the basis of linked data on the web.

Conversion to SKOS requires some technical knowledge of RDF and SKOS. This is why the Linked Heritage and AthenaPlus projects developed a Terminology Management Platform (TMP), an open-source tool where controlled vocabularies can be imported and link them to other resources using SKOS.

Explore further the Linked Heritage learning objects: Terminology and Linking Cultural Heritage Information.

See also: Controlled vocabulary, Linked data, Linked open data, Resource Description Framework (RDF), Semantic Web, Terminology Management Platform (TMP)



Standards help to make life simpler and to increase the reliability and the effectiveness of many goods and services we use. Standards are created by bringing together the experience and expertise of all interested parties such as the producers, sellers, buyers, users and regulators of a particular material, product, process or service." To the advantages given above delivering interoperability can be added.

Standards typologies comprise the following:

1: De facto: standards not formally recognised by a standards setting body, but widely used and recognised by the sector using them as a standard
2: De iure: standards formally recognised by a standards setting body (e.g. ISO). They are developed by the common consent of a group of interested parties, with no one party being dominant. They can take a significant amount to time to develop and establish, sometimes leading to them being over-taken by technological developments
3: In-house: standards developed and used in a particular organisation, for a particular purpose (e.g.: a local place name terminology)
4: Community: standards developed by a set of organisations in the same sector for use within that sector (e.g.: the UK museum documentation standard SPECTRUM developed and mantained by Collection Trust)
5: National: standards developed for use within a single country and recognised at a national level (e.g.: nationally standards terminologies)
6: International: standards recognised and used throughout the world, nearly always approved by an international standards setting body (e.g. ISO 8601 - Data elements and interchange formats – Information interchange – Representation of dates and times is an international standard for date and time).

Note that for some standards it is possible for them to begin as one type and then, with further work and taking part in an approval process, become another type. For example the CIDOC Conceptual Reference Model (CRM), was originally developed by the CIDOC Documentation Standards Working Group, as a community standard; it is now an ISO standard (ISO 21127:2006). Another type of standard is the open standard.

Source: ATHENA WP3 (2011), Digitisation: standards landscape for european museums, archives, libraries, pp. 7-12

See also: Interoperability, ISO, ISO norm



Generally speaking, terminology refers to the study of words and how they are used. In the context of the Linked Heritage Project, the term terminology stands for a general concept for different types of controlled vocabularies: simple list of terms, glossary, classification and taxonomy, thesaurus, ontology and so on. The type of vocabulary is highly connected to its purpose (indexing, information retrieval systems, translation, ...). To make terminologies interoperable and optimize their exploitation on the Web, specifically in the so called Semantic Web, terminologies need to use controlled vocabularies, to be published in SKOS/RDF formats, to be mappable to other terminological resources.

Explore further the Linked Heritage learning object: Terminology.

See also: Controlled vocabulary, Interoperability, Resource Description Framework (RDF), Semantic Web, SKOS, Terminology Management Platform (TMP)

Terminology Management Platform (TMP)

The Terminology Management Platform, short TMP, is a tool box for creating, editing and managing thesaurus, classifications, subject headings, ontology and any other kind of terminology. This platform is mainly dedicated to cultural institutions from any sector (Libraries Archives and Museums) who hold or are willing to create terminologies.

The overall terminology workflow – elaborated in the context of the ATHENA Project - comprises the following steps: 1. Registration 2. SKOSification (i.e. conversion into SKOS) 3. Search/Navigation 4. Mapping 5. Enrichment 6. Collaborative moderation. TMP supports cultural heritage institutions to upload, register and SKOSify the terminologies first, before proceeding to the next steps. Moreover TMP offers the possibility for an institution to make sharable its terminology in an exchangeable format to the community and Europeana. TMP allows to manage terminologies according to Europeana ingestion rules, and to collaborately create a network of interlinked multilingual terminologies in a Europeana compliant format (SKOS).

Explore further the Linked Heritage learning object: Terminology


A thesaurus is a type of controlled vocabulary. It is considered the most elaborate form of vocabulary, as it contains a large amount of information. Terms in thesauri are related to each other by hierarchical, equivalent and/or associative relations. A hierarchical relation means that one term is considered broader or narrower than another, expressing for example a sort of relation: a guitar is considered a narrower term of a musical instrument because a guitar is a sort of musical instrument. It is a vertical relation. An equivalent relation means that several terms are considered equal, but one term is to be preferred to another. For example, house and dwelling are synonyms, but in a thesaurus one term will be preferred and the other will be alternative. This relation is horizontal. An associative relation represents non-direct relations: the term is not a narrower nor a broader term, nor is it a synonym, but there is a relation anyhow. Guitar can be a narrower term of musical instruments and guitar tabs can be a narrower term of sheet music. Even though they do not have a parent-child relationship, guitar can be linked to guitar tabs via an associative relation.

Terms in a thesaurus are considered unique and can have a unique identification number (reused in a URI). Their meaning and use are described in scope notes.

In the SKOS-model, developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), terms in a thesaurus are considered concepts. This is because, in SKOS, not the term is important, but its hierarchical, equivalent and associative relations, as well as all the additional information it contains, expressed in URIs. A term refers to the lexical string of syllables and vowels, whereas a concept refers to a unit of thought expressed in a formal computer language. Because of the formal characteristics of concepts, language barriers can be overcome when linking and retrieving resources (See: Athenawiki - Definitions).

Explore further the Linked Heritage learning object: Terminology.

See also: Controlled vocabulary, Simple Knowledge Organization System (SKOS), Terminology, Terminology Management Platform (TMP)


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