Department of Arts, Culture and Media - University of Toronto Scarborough
The relationship of a card catalogue to a collection of print media is insufficient as a model for Iter, a not for
profit partnership devoted to enhancing the teaching and study of the European Middle Ages and Renaissance
through the development of online resources. Indeed, as it becomes increasingly common to distribute digital
collections over the web, it is becoming very clear that Iter can provide more than a sophisticated body of
inter-related databases which include pointers to digital collections by enabling researchers to interact with
the digital documents themselves. This will, of course, raise new challenges of collaboration, access,
knowledge management, standards, and delivery, all of which require answers reflecting the needs of Iter’s
community of scholars.
This paper will focus on the strategies currently being entertained by Iter in building an effective
knowledge base for study of European culture form 400 to 1700. It will begin by briefly outlining the current
status of its databases which seek to describe the gamut of print and digital media used for formal scholarly
communication (e.g. articles, essays, books, and reviews), the more ephemeral scholarly communications
(e.g. calls for papers, awards, grants, research opportunities), the relevant academic societies and research
institutions, and, finally, the scholars themselves. Some attention will be given to the inter-relationships
between these databases and the ways in which Iter will provide powerful searching tools and alerting
The presentation will continue with the more challenging issue of the connection between the
databases and the objects being described. From the perspective of the user of Iter’s resources, this part of the
paper will look both at current models of commercial and non-commercial knowledge bases, and selected
literature (e.g. on the W3C Semantic Web), in order to elucidate current expectations and how they might be
met effectively. In this way, the paper has a natural connection to other presentations in this session which
focus on the online presentation of documents.
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May 29, 2003 - June 2, 2003
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