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Vexillological Metadata Schema

Last modified: 2003-12-13 by
Keywords: vexillology | cybervexillology | e-vexillology |
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For some weeks I have been working on the concept of a new vexillological paradigm for the Internet. The current model, while good, has the opportunity to grow beyond the mere presentation of information into the realm of electronic cataloguing of information by harvesting agents. This would be done using metadata. As recently as November 17, I had considered the possibility of using the basics of the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative as the foundations, and then expanding with certain or selected elements that would be vexillologically orientated. Since then, however, I have considered the use of a Vexillological Metadata (VM) schema by itself.

Let me briefly summarize the issue. At present, we (and I include all vexillological organizations or persons who deliver flag information via the Internet) are in a basic mode - namely presenting information to the public at-large about flags. This is the state of cybervexillology at this time. But if we were to prepare metadata in such a way that it can be read by harvesting software used by libraries, universities, and the standard search engines, perhaps we can move beyond the simple presentation to where the information can be catalogued and used by scholars, students and interested individuals. Generic cybervexillology would become "electronic vexillology."

With every potential schema there have to be some definitions, and examples of use. For FOTW, we are probably a long way from implementing such a schema. But here are the basic elements:

Unless identified as required, the element would be optional.

In preparation for my prospectus towards creating an e-vexillology web framework, I did some brief analysis of several websites which feature flags, discovering that of the small sample, none uses XHTML or XML at this time. Therefore, the first example relates to HTML only.

Let's take an actual article and pretend for a moment that it has been posted to the Internet, which in this case it has, an article entitled "Politics Decides Fate of Georgia Flag." For HTML, the obvious route to go would be to incorporate the information into the <meta> tag.

Given what we know or can determine about the article (with some assumptions), let's see how it can be described in VM.



As seen in the example, not all of the elements listed were actually used and the use of repetative elements used as needed. Certain elements were not used n the analysis, but could have been. For instance, if we were to blazon the flag of the county of Sodermanland in Sweden the blazon element would be as follows:
<meta name="VEX.Blazon" content="I fält av guld en upprest svart grip med röd beväring, därest sådan skall komma till användning">

The discussion of the Vexillological Metadata schema now turns towards XML. For the XML example, I will use the same example that was used for the HTML implementation. Of a notable difference is the inclusion of the VM elements within the Resource Description Framework (RDF) container in the head portion of the XML document. Before illustrating the potential implementation, let me just say that during the course of my research on the matter, I did look at the possibilities of Dublin Core, PRISM, and several other metadata implementations, all of which did not fully capture the potential flavor of vexillological content that could be harvested. Rather than use portions of the existing schemas, I did decide to consider VM as a particular subset of metadata language.




Of course for such a system to work, there would need perhaps to be several working groups (and I'm not really sure if there would be much support for this outside FOTW, or even within FOTW): one to create a proposed controlled vocabulary; possibly one to review the current schema for potential additions; and so forth.
Phil Nelson, 21-24 November 2003
based upon From Cybervexillology to E-vexillology (unpublished manuscript), Phillip L. Nelson, 2003


Proposed Schema

Draft Version

-- Vexillology Metadata Schema
--
-- 

VexMeta attribute
        description url 'tobedetermined.html'
        prefix 'VEX'
        label 'Vexillology Metadata'
        icon 
        syntax container
                attributes set
                        Author, Editor, Abstract, Produced, Keywords, Artist,
                        Area, Language, Family, Topology, Copyright, Rights,
                        Blazon, Issn, Useage, Title

Title attribute
        description 'The name given to the resource by the creator or publisher.'
        label 'Title'
        mandatory single valued
        syntax string

Abstract attribute:
        description 'A summary of the contents of the document.'
        label "Abstract'
        mandatory single valued
        syntax string

Author attribute
        description 'The author of the resource'
        label 'Author'
        syntax string

Editor attribute
        description 'The person or organization which is responsible for the 
distribution of the material.'
        label 'Editor'
        optional single valued
        syntax string

Family attribute
        description 'The generic flag family, if applicable.'
        label 'Family'
        syntax string

Topology attribute
        description 'A description of the physical attributes of the flag.'
        label 'Topology'
        syntax string

Keywords attribute
        description 'A controlled vocabulary identifying information about 
the source document.'
        label 'Keywords'
        syntax string

Artist attribute
        description 'The illustrator of the image (and optionally the 
image name associated with the illustrator.'
        label 'Artist'
        syntax string

Copyright attribute
        description 'The date and information regarding a copyright notice.'
        label 'Copyright'
        optional single valued
        syntax string

Produced attribute
        description 'The date the resource was made available in its 
present form.'
        label 'Produced'
        optional single valued
        syntax string

Issn attribute
        description 'String or number used to uniquely identify the 
resource from the International Standard Serial Number.'
        label 'ISSN'
        optional single valued
        syntax string
          schemes
            'ISSN' scheme

Language attribute
        description 'Language(s) of the intellectual content of the 
resource. Where practical, the content of this field should coincide 
with ISO 639.'
        label 'Language'
        mandatory repeatable
        syntax string
          schemes
            'ISO639' scheme

Area attribute
        description 'An area that is covered by the image. Area refers 
to the ISO 3166 elements, and any other level of specificity to 
identify the country, region, state or locale using the flag.'
        label 'Area'
        syntax string

Rights attribute
        description 'Information on the rights to print, reprint, 
distribute or store the document.'
        label 'Rights'
        optional single valued
        syntax string

Useage attribute
        description 'Information on the usage of the flag.  See the 
FIAV Flag Information Code at http://foo.bar/flags/vex-f-ic.html.'
        label 'Useage'
        optional single valued
        syntax string

Adopted attribute
        description 'The date the flag was officially adopted. 
ISO 8601 format is preferable, but the text should be free form for 
providers who are not familiar with the ISO schema (YYYY-MM-DD).'
        label 'Adopted'
        optional single valued
        syntax string

Blazon attribute
        description 'The official blazon as granted; not applicable 
for many flags.  When the blazon is in a different language than 
the remainder of the document, an additional language attribute will 
be needed'
        label 'Blazon'
        syntax string

Editor's note: If a value is not listed as "mandatory" with a modifier as to single valued or repeatable, or "optional single valued" the value defaults to "optional repeatable." Mostbet