• Jeff Young, Software Architect, OCLC Research - "Linking Things and the Virtual International Authority File"
Is "NISO" a "controlled access point" or an "organization"? Because different authority agencies disagree on the literal form of the “controlled access point”, the basis for associating them in VIAF must be through a more intuitive concept like “organization”, “person”, “place”, etc. Linked Data encourages us to assign HTTP URIs to these conceptualized resources and to describe them with existing ontologies (e.g. FOAF, SKOS, OWL) to further enhance their reuse outside the library community. With these Linked Data tools, VIAF and its contributors illustrate the potential interplay between centralized and decentralized interoperability of authority information.
As the Web of Data appears, hubs of information are naturally forming. The Linked Data approach to publishing information is one of reuse and linking to others. It is no surprise therefore that DBpedia [Linked Data derived from Wikipedia] has become one of the most linked to hubs --- not because of the authority of Wikipedia data, but because of the reusable identifiers used to link it. In the same way governments are becoming hubs for identifying schools, locations, departments, laws, etc., the library community has the opportunity to become the respected source for identifiers in this world. What we collectively refer to as authorities have the potential [if published openly, simply, and soon] to become hubs for the linking of library and non-library information across the Web of Data. However, just encoding what we have in RDF and pushing it out there may not be enough. Applying Linked Data principles and approaching it from the data consumers' point of view will help the continuation of the centuries old library mission into a Semantic Web future.
For more than two decades, the Getty Vocabulary Program, a unit of the Getty Research Institute (GRI), has been building electronic thesauri containing structured terminology for art, architecture, decorative arts and other material culture, archival materials, visual surrogates, and bibliographic materials. Compliant with international standards, the Art & Architecture Thesaurus (AAT®), Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names (TGN®), and Union List of Artist Names (ULAN®) provide authoritative information for catalogers and researchers, and can be used to enhance search and retrieval in databases and Web sites. The Getty Vocabularies grow through contributions from their constituent communities. The Getty Vocabulary Program is a participant in VIAF. The newest Getty vocabulary, currently in development, is CONA™ (Cultural Objects Name Authority), a structured vocabulary containing authority records for cultural works, including architecture and movable works such as paintings, sculpture, prints, drawings, manuscripts, photographs, textiles, ceramics, furniture, other visual media such as frescoes and architectural sculpture, performance art, archaeological artifacts, and various functional objects that are from the realm of material culture and of the type collected by museums.