This post is the last in a series about the UDC consortium international seminar in The Hague, 19-20 September, 2011

Joan S. Mitchell, OCLC (USA), and Marcia Lei Zeng, Kent State University (USA), supported by Maja Žumer, University of Ljubljana (Slovenia), talked about extending models for controlled vocabularies to classification systems: modelling DDC with FRSAD, which led to interesting discussions about their concepts of “nomen” and “thema”.

Along with my former colleague Andy Heather, now CTO at DODS Parliamentary Communications Ltd, I talked about our work on the data migration of classifications from a legacy database into new taxonomy management software, presenting our paper: Transformation of a legacy UDC-based classification system: exploiting and remodelling semantic relationships.


The key ideas I took away from the conference were:
1) Classifications and ontologies are not an either/or choice. They have different properties and different strengths and weaknesses and so should be chosen according to the task in hand.
2) It is difficult to turn a classification into an ontology, but easy to turn an ontology into a taxonomy, so if you don’t have either to start with and can’t decide, an ontology is a safer bet. If you already have a classification, you need to think carefully about whether it is worth turning it into a fully modelled ontology, as converting it to RDF or SKOS is likely to be much easier. However, at the moment, RDF and SKOS have limitations, especially in handling faceted taxonomies, so beware of losing semantic richness in the conversion process. Polyhierarchies offer a way of expressing facets in SKOS.
4) Vocabulary control and alignment continue to be significant issues for the Semantic Web.
5) Ontology curation, management, and semantic alignment will be increasingly important issues for the Semantic Web.

Slides and audio recordings of all 21 talks can be now downloaded from the conference website.

Conference proceedings are published by Ergon Verlag and can now be
purchased/ordered online from