4 Responses to Smart Digital Books Metadata Notes #6

  1. laura says:

    Technical standards already exist to allow making the kind of conceptual links between books mentioned here and in installment #3.

    Expressing such links is possible using metadata models such as RDF, whose triple structure allows not just creating links between resources, but specifying why those links are made through the use of predicates.

    So the example here is NOT marginalia, but becomes a way of expressing that:

    BookA hasConcept habituation


    BookB hasConcept habituation

    Thus, it becomes easy to see that these books both mention the same concept. In this way, readers can easily find other books that treat the same concepts.

    The example in installment #3 was similar, only the concept being expressed was different.

    The Outliers example could be quite easily expressed by triples of the type

    BookC hasTitle Outliers
    BookC hasConcept mastery
    BookD hasSubject mastery

    Where BookD is whatever book is dedicated to the mentioned subject.

    The main question I have is related to the usefulness of these kinds of links. It might be less useful for me to know that Books A&B have mentioned the same concept than to know, for example, that it was Mike Cane who made the connection.

    I think the conceptual links between books are necessary, but their real usefulness comes from knowing who made the links and to what else they apply.

    Definitely this means that human expertise and opinion is essential, but I would argue that ontologies that allow expressing the relationships between concepts are also critical, whether human or machine generated.

    Today, humans are much more reliable at identifying these concepts in natural language text, while describing them in unambiguous machine-understandable language (with formal semantics) is not always easy.

    To do what you describe, we need something that is equally conducive to both machine and human reading and understanding. At least to my mind.

  2. Mike Cane says:

    I'd be more specific than "mastery" and I'd refine it down to the paragraph level (the T&GR cite is a single paragraph!).

    Machines could do brute-force work, as they do today building a book index. But a human always has to go in there and make it reasonable and functional.

    Provenance of a link is interesting!

  3. laura says:

    I agree.

    I will also say that this series of metadata notes has be very useful and helped me clarify my thinking on this topic.


  4. […] Mike Cane had an excellent example of such a connection on his now defunct blog, The eBook Test, Smart Digital Books Metadata Notes #6. Only in this case, it isn’t the eBook that is smart, but the reader, with Evernote providing […]

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