Free and Open Source Software for Geomatics Conference FOSS4G 2010 Barcelona

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INSPIRE sets the scene for metadata by relying on catalogs – or so it seems. Modern metadata catalogs use ontologies and thesauri to create hierarchical and polyhierarchical indexes. But catalogs still seem to miss the needs of both consumers and producers of geospatail data alike. The talk will focus on how to address INSPIRE and at the same time improve access to spatial services and applications in an Open Source environment.

To better understand the concepts behind traditional metadata management a concise introduction is given. In this context it can be be helpful to look into semiotics (a linguistics discipline) and derive the meanings of syntax and semantics. The third discipline of semiotics is pragmatics. It describes "the relation between signs and their effects on those who use them". This is exactly what we are missing in catalogs, there is no meaningful relation between the metadata created by producers and potential users.

The potential of digital metadata becomse apparent when we look into the three levels of order that apply to matter (first level of order), alphabetical catalogs (second) and digital data (third level of order) are explained.

From this outlook it is easy to understand why second order catalogs can never fathom the potential of digital data. The solution to this problem is to first allow metadata to automagically permeate from geospatial data and then to link it together. This metadata can provide a platform to empower communities to interact with, derive their own meaning and from there build their own user-centric repositories.

Combining existing concepts for metadata management and automized metadata generation in an agile environment will allow collaborative development. This will in turn create a new level of order that will add value to spatial data infrastructures we have been waiting for so long.


Arnulf Christl - Metaspatial


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