Thursday, May 08, 2008

A Publishing Ontology

Yesterday I was listening to two of my colleagues discussing our platform and what should be done with a catalogue, when I realised that I did not have a clue as to what was going on. When geek-talk overwhelms me I tend to reach back for philosophical roots.
-- "Hang on a minute -- I interjected -- you are talking about our ontology. I didnt realise that we have an ontology".

Well it turns out that we do, and I am begining to get the hang of it. There are four important types of entity in the Exact Editions universe. (1) Publishers, who come at the top of the tree (of course) who control access, deliver content, they may need branding, they may get subscriptions and revenue, and they will expect to get usage statistics; then there are (2) Publications, which may be of various subtypes (eg magazines, brochures, books, catalogues etc), publications will have their own 'entry point/home page' and our usage statistics will be aggregated for the individual publication; then there are some special publications which have peculiar characteristics for example they may have earlier or later issues: (3) Issues. Searches can be aggregated across issues of a single publication. At any rate yesterday's geek-speak was hovering over the question of whether publishers' catalogues have issues or not, since they can certainly have (4) Supplements. We decided that some catalogues are issue-like. Publisher's seasonal lists have a periodical frequency which makes them a bit like issues of a periodical. At any rate, our ontology now allows for the possibility.

In fact we are still only scratching the surface. If you want to get tied in absurdly complex knots we have to introduce you to the topic of loose-leaf-publications........It will make Being and Nothingness feel like child's play.

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