[Esip-preserve] [esip-semanticweb] Identifiers for people?

Matt Mayernik mayernik at ucar.edu
Wed Mar 7 17:09:51 EST 2012

In library world, this issue is called "authority control". Sky 
mentioned the Library of Congress name authority IDs; that is the 
standard tool used by library catalogers (at least in the US) to do name 
disambiguation. The LoC keeps authority files for authors, which are 
exactly what Bruce described: a list of possible names for the same 
person, with one preferred name provided. There is also an international 
initiative along these lines to create a Virtual International Authority 
File (VIAF), http://viaf.org/. VIAF is available as RDF, and thus 
linked-data friendly, etc. The LoC authority files might be as well, I'm 
not sure.

For this debate though, the big issue with both of these is that they 
are based on book authors. So journal authors who haven't written books 
wouldn't be in there, and of course the same for the K-12 educators, 
community college teachers, etc. that Christopher mentioned.

I guess the take away is that these library-based "people" vocabs should 
definitely be part of the discussion, but as another player in the game, 
they aren't comprehensive in-and-of themselves.


Matthew Mayernik
Research Data Services Specialist
NCAR Library
National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR)
Boulder, CO, 80307-3000

On 3/7/2012 2:25 PM, Bruce Barkstrom wrote:
> Find somebody who has a copy of AARC2 and see
> what librarians have recommended before assuming
> that the whole world didn't exist before the Web.
> Bruce B.
> On Wed, Mar 7, 2012 at 4:23 PM, Curt Tilmes<Curt.Tilmes at nasa.gov>  wrote:
>> On 03/07/2012 01:56 PM, Sky Bristol wrote:
>>> USGS has been working on this issue as well for some time. We've
>>> done it as part of what we've used "master data management" for in a
>>> project called ScienceBase. I just cross-posted a blog I'd written a
>>> while back to a public location that provides an overview on this
>>> work.
>>> https://my.usgs.gov/confluence/x/dQCfCQ
>> Very interesting -- thanks so much for posting that.  A lot of
>> interesting work going on there.  (BTW -- Tom Armstrong says Hi!)
>>> One of the biggest challenges we are having in a government world
>>> that we still haven't resolved to satisfaction is dealing with
>>> Privacy Act concerns. There's all kinds of things that come into
>>> play when a government agency starts aggregating information on
>>> people, even when many of them work for us. In that respect, doing
>>> this under the auspices of DataONE would be a little smoother. :-)
>> Hmm.. I'll probably have to look into that some more..
>>> The blog post doesn't talk about IDs specifically, but we've ended
>>> up storing any number of IDs with people records in
>>> ScienceBase. We've got Library of Congress name authority IDs, local
>>> data system IDs, and a variety of others. We do as much automated
>>> disambiguation every time we encounter a new contact as we can and
>>> are still working on developing the data librarian practice to fill
>>> in the human bits.
>> So anyway, Peter Schoephoester seems like a really popular person at
>> USGS, (associated with 346,675 items, wow! busy guy!)
>> His "Person Profile Page" in sciencebase refers to him simply by
>> number (his "Party Id"):
>>   http://my.usgs.gov/catalog/catalogParty/show/15322
>> so it looks like you simply mint a new Party Id for each disambiguated
>> person/organization you add to the system, then just always use id
>> 15322 whenever you want to refer to that person?
>> I'll definitely be taking a closer look at sciencebase..
>> --
>> Curt Tilmes, Ph.D.
>> U.S. Global Change Research Program
>> 1717 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Suite 250
>> Washington, D.C. 20006, USA
>> +1 202-419-3479 (office)
>> +1 443-987-6228 (cell)
>> http://globalchange.gov
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