Intro by Deborah Paul, iDigBio
The iDigBio Data Management Interest Group (DMIG) collaboratively created and continues to develop the Darwin Core Hour monthly webinar series. We’re very pleased to re-post this blog by Steven Baskauf about our most recent Darwin Core Hour webinar: Even Simple is Hard. Some 23 fields in the Darwin Core data standard (DwC) suggest that a controlled vocabulary be used. But, what data are really shared in those fields? And, how do we—all of us—improve that data? In his presentation, John Wieczorek introduced the nuances and challenges of coming up with standards for controlled vocabularies and ways that we might improve them.
Next up in the Darwin Core Hour series: Paula Zermoglio will delve even deeper and provide concrete examples of what the data looks like for some fields, like the dwc:sex field, in Thousands of Shades for “Controlled Vocabularies”. We hope you’ll join us on April 4, 2017, to learn more about these fields, and what you can do to enhance the data quality for data shared in those fields. Please contribute your ideas for DwC webinars and your DwC questions to our Darwin Core Hour Input Form.
Steven’s blog post, reposted at iDigBio from Controlled values (again): The connection between The Darwin Core Hour and the TDWG Standards Documentation Specification, dives deep into the world of data standards and the topic of controlled vocabularies. Steve says this is “a less technical blog post on the subject of controlled vocabularies for the general TDWG audience.” Enjoy!
Controlled values (again)
The connection between The Darwin Core Hour and the TDWG Standards Documentation Specification
I've included the word "again" in the title of this blog post because I wrote a series of blog posts  about a year ago exploring issues related to thesauri, ontologies, controlled vocabularies, and SKOS. Those posts were of a somewhat technical nature since I was exploring possible ways to represent controlled vocabularies as RDF. However, there has been a confluence of two events that have inspired me to write a less technical blog post on the subject of controlled vocabularies for the general TDWG audience.
One is the genesis of the excellent Darwin Core Hour webinar series. I encourage you to participate in them if you want to learn more about Darwin Core. The previous webinars have been recorded and can be viewed online. The most recent webinar "Even Simple is Hard", presented by John Wieczorek on March 7, provided a nice introduction to issues related to controlled vocabularies, and the next one on April 4 "Thousands of shades for 'Controlled' Vocabularies", to be presented by Paula Zermoglio and will deal with the specifics of controlled vocabularies.
The other thing that's going on is that we are in the midst of the public comment period for the draft TDWG Standards Documentation Specification (SDS), of which I'm the lead author. At the TDWG Annual Meeting in December, I led a session to inform people about the SDS and it's sister standard, the TDWG Vocabulary Management Specification. At that session, the topic of controlled vocabularies came up. I made some statements explaining the way that the SDS specifies that controlled vocabularies will be described in machine-readable form. What I said seemed to take some people by surprise, and although I provided a brief explanation, there wasn't enough time to have an in-depth discussion. I hoped that the topic would come up during the SDS public comment period, but so far it has not. Given the current interest in constructing controlled vocabularies, I hope that this blog post will either generate some discussion, or satisfy people's curiosity about how the SDS deals with machine-readable controlled vocabularies.
Visit Steven’s original blog post here to read on!