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Short Response

Posted on February 04 2003 by Stephen Downes in reponse to The one standard, LOM and the semantic web.

This is a lucid and insightful summary of my argument, capturing my main points with clarity and accuracy (to wit: I hadn't even considered the possibility of running trains on roads - if I had, I would have picked a different analogy and avoided the carnage).

I concur with the article's main criticism, that I did not spend enough time elaborating on community. Because the main point of the criticism is fair enough - there is some agreement between speakers of a language, and this is also essential. I downplay that point to make my counterpoint about context. But of course I should not downplay that point to oblivion.

What I would say, were I to write a part two to this article, is that community creates a common vocabulary, that there can be common vocabularies, but that our understanding of the 'educational community' is flawed. Biology educators have much more in common with working biologists (including a vocabulary) than they do with, say, art instructors.

So though I think that the objectives of IEEE-LOM (and new variants) are laudable, I think they may have approached the discipline at the wrong level of categorization. I would expect that domain-specific metadata will be much more useful in the long run than discipline-specific metadata.

And I think that my main point, that we will live in a veritable alphabet soup of metadata standards, remains valid.

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