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Reading This Report
Getting More Information
I Introduction to CIMI
Origins of CIMI
Second CIMI Committee Meeting
Third CIMI Committee Meeting
Final CIMI Committee Meeting
CIMI Task Groups
II Information Standards
III. Requirements for Computer Interchange of Museum Information
General Functional Requirement
Museum Applications and their Interchange Requirements
IV Standards Options for Museum Data Interchange
Options for Telecommunications and Media Standards
Options for Museum Interchange Applications
Collections Catalogues and Reference Databases
Messaging and Directory Services
Vendor and Network recommendations:
Museum profession recommendations:
VI Implementing the Standards Framework For CIMI
Tasks for present and future CIMI task groups
The future of the CIMI initiative
Appendix A: Glossary of CIMI Terms
Appendix B: References
Museums have many needs to interchange data. When a museum moves from one computing system to another, it will want to migrate its data. If the museum has a system for financial management, another system for membership and development, and yet other software for collections management it will want to communicate between these applications. If a museum lends objects for exhibitions or borrows objects for research, the process could be greatly improved by interchange. And when the interpretation of objects requires research in secondary sources, or indexing collection descriptions requires access to standard vocabularies and authority files, interchange capabilities can link museum collections with sources of that information.
Without a standard for such interchange, each instance of interchange requires preparation and programming. This may result in lost data, or the cost of one-off interchange outweighing the benefits. With interchange standards, basic management responsibility for preservation of museum information and integration of museum functions will be met while enhancing the potential for scholarly information exchange.
The Museum Computer Network (MCN) launched its initiative for Computer Interchange of Museum Information (CIMI) to develop standards that could support museum requirements. Representatives from all the major North American museum associations and network service providers attended meetings from 1990-92 which contributed to the framework for museum standards presented here.
This report identifies the types of interchange museums do or have a need to do. It then examines national and international information standards to see if existing standards can serve museums. Using the Open Systems Environment (OSE)1 and Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) models as a benchmark, the report reveals that certain classes of existing standards can serve museums and discusses how to identify applicable application standards. It then reviews the evidence on the suitability of certain application standards to specific museum applications.
Based on these findings, the report recommends a standards framework for museum information interchange titled the CIMI Standards Framework.
This framework encompasses interchange protocols, interchange formats, and lower level network and telecommunications building blocks as well as content data standards that provide the technical basis for museum information interchange.
Specifically, the CIMI Standards Framework adopts existing standards for interchange of information at OSI levels 1-6 including FTAM for file transfer, X.400 and X.500 for messaging and directory services, and ISO 9040/41 for terminal access. It allows for the use of either OSI or TCP/IP. It recommends EDI for business transactions and ISO 10162/10163 for information retrieval. It provides rationales for using either ISO 2709, ISO 8879 SGML, ISO 8824 ASN.1 for building collections databases or reference files.
The CIMI Standards Framework provides guidelines for museums, museum consortia, and vendors of museum services, to define the purposes and contents of specific exchanges of data and positions them to take advantages of information industry-wide developments in interoperability. It allows individual museum institutions to be the beneficiaries of standards rather than having to bear the cost of developing software themselves.
The CIMI Standards Framework is also a strategy for preservation of museum data because it recognizes the shortcomings and costs of having information dependent on a particular hardware and software combination and provides a blueprint for migrating data.
The report discusses two levels of implementation of the CIMI Standards Framework. The first is for museums to specify that their hardware and software acquisitions support the standards defined in the CIMI Standards Framework. This will ensure that the data can be interchanged even if all the institutional meanings cannot be. The second addresses the problem of agreeing on meanings by proceeding with the standardization of data content (the fields of information), and data values (what goes in the fields).
The report recommends:
The report encourages museum profession involvement in networked communications to increase the visibility of museum resources on the Internet, to improve museum to museum communications, and to enhance museum service delivery and develop museum professional skills. It also recognizes the need for research and development of standards for integrated text and image management and access to museum information as important, contemporary interchange issues for museums.
The report concludes by acknowledging the importance of the ongoing commitment by the MCN to CIMI and the recommendation of the current CIMI Management Committee, accepted by the MCN Board, that a Consortium for CIMI be formed to promote further research and development.
If funding can be secured through a membership based Consortium for CIMI, a research and development agenda will be pursued over the coming years to:
CIMI stands for Computer Interchange of Museum Information. CIMI was used as the logotype for the Committee on the Computer Interchange of Museum Information, active from July 1990 to June 1992, which debated how best to establish standards in support of computer- based museum information interchange. CIMI also refers to the ongoing initiative of the Museum Computer Network to support the development and implementation of standards for automated recording and retrieval of museum information along with mechanisms for its interchange.
This report to the museum community summarizes the major achievement of the CIMI initiative. In it we:
We hope this report will serve as a significant resource for developing interchange and will assist museum professionals as well as software vendors and network service providers with planning and implementation of museum information systems.
The report is the result of several years of deliberations by museum professionals and consultation with technical experts in a variety of organizations, but it is authored by two individuals. As President of the Museum Computer Network in 1988, David Bearman proposed the initiative to the board and chaired the CIMI Committee from 1988-1992. John Perkins has served as Project Manager since 1989 and continues to work in this capacity with on- going Task Groups and the CIMI Management Committee established by the MCN Board in November 1992.
The organization of this report follows closely the discovery process in which the CIMI Committee engaged in developing the Standards Framework. While we believe that this recapitulation of the process will educate others in the way CIMI educated itself, we have not been so bound by history as to take readers on all the byways and false paths which the Committee took. As a result, even though most of the discussion and illustrations follow CIMI briefing papers and minutes, readers who return to those sources will find occasions where this report extends the analysis in interim products.
This document has many acronyms and technical terms. We have made every effort to include definitions of these in the Glossary found in Appendix A.
Some of the discussions at CIMI meetings were highly charged and contentious. We believe that we have fairly represented the divergent views and correctly stated the agreed positions of the CIMI Committee (1990-1992). The primary documents are cited in the bibliography for those interested in the history.
While the work has undergone editorial and content review by the CIMI Management Committee, the final product is the responsibility of the authors alone. We hope that the work will promote discussion and elicit constructive criticism so that the ongoing CIMI activities to develop services and formats, and implementing their interchanges will continue to benefit from greater expertise.
The work of the CIMI Committee from 1990-92 was supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Pew Charitable Trusts. There was also significant support from the Museum Computer Network and the Getty Art History Information Program (AHIP). Additionally, the Cultural History Information Task Group was supported by the Association for State and Local History (AASLH). The Art Information Task Force sponsored by the College Art Association (CAA), and the Getty Art History Information Program (AHIP), received additional support from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The ongoing work of the CIMI Management Committee and projects from July 1992 is supported by the Canadian Heritage Information Network (CHIN) and the Research Libraries Group Inc. (RLG).
The authors wish to acknowledge and thank the many who contributed time, expertise and energy to the work of CIMI. It is not possible to thank all individually but special recognition is due the following individuals and organizations.
Members of the CIMI Committee, 1990-92: Joan Bacharach, US National Park Service; David Bearman, Archives and Museum Informatics, Project Director; Lynn Cox, Museum Computer Network; Gail Eagen, Canadian Heritage Information Network; Julian Humphries, Association for Systematic Collections; Ron Kley, Association for Living Historical Farms and Agricultural Museums; Sarah Lawrence and Sarah Kennington, Argus User Group; Kathleen McDonnell, Conservation Information Network; Patricia Gordon Michael, American Association for State and Local History; John Perkins, Project Manager; Andrew Roberts, International Council of Museums Documentation Committee, Museum Documentation Association; Margaretta Sander, Art Information Task Force; Lenore Sarasan, Willoughby Associates; Greg Tschann, American Association of Museums; Alan Tucker, Research Libraries Group Inc.
The work of the Task Groups would not have been possible without the contributions of each of their respective members but especially the Chairs and Managers of the collaboration with CIMI. Thanks are extended to Ellsworth Brown (Chicago Historical Society) and Rosanne Mackie (AASLH) of the Cultural History Task Group and to Eleanor Fink (Getty AHIP), Patricia Barnett (Metropolitan Museum of Art), and Margaretta Sander (Getty AHIP) for help on the Art Information Task Force.
Thanks are also due members of the 1988 MCN board who launched the effort, the Executive Directors of MCN Deirdre Stam and Lynn Cox, technical advisors and reviewers and those involved in testing the protocols Richard DesJardins (GOSIP Institute), Wayne Davison (RLG Inc.), John Day (BBN), Richard Fuchs (RLG Inc.), Michael Ester (Getty AHIP), Richard Light, Clifford Lynch (University of California), Michel Vulpe (SoftQuad Ltd.), Greg Spurgeon (National Gallery of Canada), Kody Janney (Continuum Productions), and all the observers at CIMI Committee meetings who participated in the debates.
Invaluable advice and encouragement was received from standards bodies in the US and Canada and from participants in the technical committees of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), especially Pat Harris of NISO. For assistance on assessing the reality of many multimedia standards, Lawrence Welsch and Judi Moline of the U.S. National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST). And on a variety of international museological matters, Andrew Roberts of CIDOC, members of the CIDOC Reconciliation of Data Standards Working Group, Cary Karp and the Swedish initiative INSAM, and the Museum Documentation Association.
Finally our thanks go to the current MCN Management Committee which has taken on the challenge of carrying forward the work.
Rachel Allen, National Museum of American Art; David Bearman, Archives and Museum Informatics; Leslie Johnston, Historic New Orleans Collection; Peter Rauch, Museum Informatics Project University of California, Berkeley. Peter Homulos, Canadian Heritage Information Network; Susan Hockey, Centre for Electronic Texts in the Humanities; Jim Michalko, Research Libraries Group Inc.; Judi Moline, National Institute of Standards and Technology; Andrew Roberts, International Council on Museums, CIDOC; John Perkins, CIMI Project Manager (ex officio).
For information about the status of these ongoing activities, the reader is referred to the CIMI Project Manager.
John Perkins CIMI Project Manager Tel: 902-826-2824 Fax: 902-826-1337 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Long before the invention of computers museums exchanged information with each other and their researchers. The introduction of computers has made the practice both easier (because it is faster and potentially more usable) and harder. The prospect of computers supporting exchange of information among museums and construction of shared catalogues motivated the formation of the Museum Computer Network in the U.S. in 1967 and continues to be the foundation for many collaborative projects today. But exchange of information among institutions is not the only reason for interchange standards.
Museums will increasingly acquire their holdings with machine readable information already associated with them whether from site surveys or auction records. They need to incorporate this information and other data from biographical and historical files into their local information systems.
Museums must also be concerned with whether computerized documentation they painstakingly build up around their collections will be accessible and meaningful to anyone else long after the original collectors of it - and the systems they worked with - have vanished. Therefore, they need to be able to move the data from one vendor's system to another, because of system obsolescence and because multiple applications within the museum will require access to the same information.
Museums also want to deliver information from a variety of sources and formats including print, oral history, still and moving pictures in their interpretation of holdings and to document the contexts of an objects's creation and use. They want to publish their interpretations in exhibitions and reference works, in print and multimedia, and to distribute information electronically.
Each of these needs is dependent on information interchange: information interchange to capture data when collections are acquired; information interchange to move documentation from one system to a replacement and to integrate multiple applications within the museum; information interchange to merge multimedia into unified databases; and information interchange to publish and disseminate museum interpretations.
Making information interchange work smoothly and transparently is difficult because: different makes of computers and different software products, are not designed to "talk to each other", and different professions within the museum have their own intellectual perspectives, and different processes within the museum require information in different forms. As a consequence, the structure and content of information in different computer applications varies considerably. Making everybody use the same system and do everything the same way is not a solution, because we value the differences in perspectives, because the differences in uses for information reflect the actual requirements of day-to-day administration, and because competition between hardware and software vendors helps stimulate additional functionality and keeps prices falling.
The metaphor of human communication is a way of explaining computer to computer communication. Humans use the formal properties of language, grammar, syntax and vocabulary to provide the basis for communication and exploit the physics of transmission of sound waves to carry the message, and the technical apparatus of human vocal chords, ears and brain to decipher it. Generally we are not confused by the sounds we hear, if we speak the language, because we understand the "standards" for successful exchange from our earliest learning experiences.
The case would be the same for computer interchanges if we had the same degree of familiarity and standardization. But, we need to become familiar with the new equipment, learn new rules, create the formats and syntax and agree on the meanings and vocabulary.
During the past decade the international museum community has made numerous efforts to standardize aspects of its practices including description of museum objects and methods for their accessioning, storage, loan, and exhibition (Bearman,1991a). Museums have also adopted standards for ethics, for collections plans and for financial accounting. Much effort has been expended internationally on standardizing the content of museum information within particular shared systems, especially by the Canadian Heritage Information Network (CHIN) and the Museum Documentation Association (MDA). However, museums have not yet collectively defined an information management standards framework within which to view the content, structure and terminology standardization efforts in context.
The CIMI initiative was designed to advance the use of computers in museums by defining a framework for interchange which, if followed, will reduce costs and risks to individual institutions. Eventually, these standards will increase the number of opportunities which museums will have to participate in effective information interchange as a result of acquiring hardware and software with built in capabilities for supporting the needs of museums.
The CIMI Standards Framework presented in this report specifies the interchange standards that should be used by different museum applications to transfer data so that it will be usable in receiving systems independent of their hardware, software or network vendor. It rests on some simple premises:
In 1986 the International Council on Museums Committee on Documentation (CIDOC) endorsed the standard ISO 2709 as the basis for all museum information interchange. Their action went virtually unnoticed and it was evident that it would not have a practical impact on museums unless national organizations took up the challenge of implementing software and networks based on the standard. The CIMI initiative was proposed to the Board of MCN in 1988 as a means of taking the CIDOC action forward in the United States. It fit neatly into MCN's newly adopted mission of increasing the role of computers in museum management and collection documentation through promotion of standards.
In endorsing the CIMI initiative, the Board of MCN acknowledged that the absence of standards significantly inhibited the use of automation by museums and the creation of museum oriented products by vendors. In 1989 MCN issued invitations to U.S. museum associations to send representatives to serve on a body which became known as the CIMI Committee. The invitation was accepted by the American Association of Museums (AAM), the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH), the Association of Living Historical Farms and Agricultural Museums (ALHFAM) and the Association of Systematics Collections (ASC) which together represented most museums in the country. The MCN itself sent a representative, and extended invitations, which were also accepted, to the providers of networked museum services in North America: CHIN, the Conservation Information Network (CIN) and the Research Libraries Group Inc. Funding for the meetings of the CIMI Committee was secured from the National Endowment for Humanities and the Pew Charitable Trusts, and in-kind support was provided by the MCN for a period of two years. Before the Committee met additional invitations to participate were accepted by the Argus Users Group, the U.K. Museum Documentation Standard project, the U.S. National Park Service, and Willoughby Associates. The chairman of CIDOC also participated throughout. In addition, the CIMI Committee meetings were open to observers and several observers played quite active roles and came to most meetings.
Prior to the first CIMI Committee meeting in the fall of 1990, it was anticipated that the effort would lead directly to adoption of a format for interchange based on the MARC format, known to the standards community as ISO 2709 because this standard had been endorsed by CIDOC. In its applications for CIMI funding however, MCN noted that there were problems in using ISO 2709 (which had been designed for text only), and suggested that either the ISO 2709 would need to be modified or that an alternative format would need to be devised. The grant proposal envisioned that in the end there might not be a single data interchange format for museums, but it authors (Bearman and MCN Executive Director Deirdre Stam) assumed that an institution might select one format from among several approved by CIMI. Neither the proposal nor any of the early discussions about the interchange standards prepared us for adopting a suite of existing standards. In retrospect it is clear that the deliberations of the CIMI Committee radically changed, and valuably modified, not only the CIDOC recommendation but the original assumptions of MCN sponsors of CIMI.
When the CIMI Committee first met in October 1990, it recognized that the concept of what museum data, and interchange services, had evolved considerably since 1986. Not only was it evident that digital image bases, sound bases, and compound digital multi- sensory and multi-media documents were soon going to play a major role in collections documentation, but also that services other than collections information database construction, such as exhibits development and loan, photo fulfilment, and conservation assessment would be a focus for data interchange in future museum networks. Therefore the first CIMI meeting focused on establishing a process for involvement of the broadest representation from the museum community to define requirements for museum information interchange because it assumed, correctly, that such a process would bring new requirements to light. By the end of its first meeting, the Committee had laid a foundation for a statement of mission and guiding principles for conducting its work shown in Figure 1.
+----------------------------------------------------------------------------+ | Mission Statement | | | | The mission of the Computer Interchange of Museum Information | | committee is to identify a technical framework to support the computer | | interchange of all museum information deemed relevant by the museum | | community. | | | | Goals | | | | Develop a technical framework | | | | Develop a technical framework, known as the CIMI Standards | | Framework by combining data interchange formats, interchange | | transport protocols, transfer media options, and other requirements to | | coherently support the interchange of museum data. | | | | Assist in the development of museum data interchange formats | | | | Work with task groups from the professional community to map specific | | requirements into the CIMI Framework by defining standard | | interchange formats that are tailored to the needs of particular | | interchanges. | | | | Create support and acceptance | | | | Create the conditions to encourage widespread acceptance of the CIMI | | Framework by assuring their effectiveness, by communicating | | extensively with a broad professional community, by working with | | organizations representing the information needs of the professional | | community, and by implementing a legitimate decision making process. | | | | Accommodate evolution and maintenance | | | | Work towards a mechanism to support the maintenance and continued | | development of the CIMI Protocols in response to the ongoing | | elaboration of community interchange needs and the evolving technical | | environment for providing interchange. | | | | Guiding Principles | | | | Conduct the business of the committee in an open, consultative manner. | | Fundamental to this is the participation of standards consumers, | | producers and others with relevant interests; decision making by | | consensus; the opportunity for broad public review of work; and the | | adoption of other relevant national and international standards. | | | | Work with Task Groups constituted from the professional museum | | community to ensure that the CIMI Framework neither dictates the | | content or purpose of interchange, but assures the accommodation of the | | information needs desired and expressed by the profession. | +----------------------------------------------------------------------------+ Figure 1 CIMI Mission Statement
The Committee also asked Project Manager John Perkins to prepare two briefing papers in advance of its next meeting: one on the standards development process, and a second on museum requirements for information interchange.
The briefing papers prepared for the second meeting held in Spring 1991 introduced the range of standards bodies and standards (discussed in Chapter II of this volume) and began to reveal the extent of museum needs for interchanging information. They, and summaries of all other subsequent briefing papers, were sent to a growing mailing list of museum professionals interested in CIMI. By June 1992 this list included more than 600 individuals and organizations.
At the meeting, the Committee was briefed on the concept of standards frameworks, particularly the OSI Reference Model (discussed in Chapter II and shown in Figure 4) and the OSE Model (Figure 5) as ways of making sense of the plethora of standards. The committee decided, as a consequence, to advise museums, to look to external standards such as the level 1-5 OSI standards or equivalents2. The focus of CIMI Committee work, therefore, became standards relating to the Application layer, or level 7, and possibly on some level 6 standards relation to the Presentation layer of the OSI Reference Model.
The Committee held a brainstorming session to identify several dozen museum applications. It began to discuss a number of standards about which individual members were knowledgeable and which were thought to be germane to specific applications. At this point, in the absence of more complete information about either the standards or the applications, the Committee again turned to the Project Manager and requested a briefing paper for the fall 1991 Committee meeting in which specific museum applications would be correlated with specific standards and recommendations would be presented. Before adjourning, the Committee drafted the definition of its requirements for a CIMI standards framework discussed in Chapter 3.
In the process of writing the paper on "Options for the Computer Interchange of Museum information" (Perkins 1992), it became clear that clusters of museum applications shared requirements for information interchange which were satisfied in turn by clusters of standards. In some cases only a single standard method of satisfying a requirement was available; in other cases several standards seemed potentially applicable.
At its meeting in the Fall of 1991 the Committee decided to locate additional standards to add to the OSI level 1-5 foundation of the evolving CIMI Standards Framework. For example, it decided to adopt Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) for those business functions of museums that are identical to business functions of other organizations, such as acquisition of materials and supplies and sales of museum products (including ordering, billing, receiving, and paying), and for those functions which are analogous to business functions of other organizations but peculiar to museums such as exhibitions loan (including steps like insuring, custom brokering, and shipping).
The Committee also decided to adopt standards for electronic mail which conform to existing international messaging standards and for information retrieval corresponding to ways in which data is retrieved in other environments. The Committee further decided that the interchange of data files could be handled by existing ISO file transfer, access, and management standards (FTAM).
The Committee was not able, on the basis of the information it had, to decide between three standard methods of interchanging collections-related data records. After defining a set of criteria by which it would evaluate the adequacy of each of the three different approaches, the Committee again asked its Project Manager to illustrate the way in which the data might be handled by each standard and describe the benefits and drawbacks of each.
The National Gallery of Canada and the Canadian Heritage Information Network provided sample museum records which were then mocked up in each of the three standards (ISO 2709, SGML, and ASN.1) to show which would best serve as a framework for interchange of museum object identification, description and analysis information. How well each standard met the criteria set by the Committee was then researched and the results presented to the Committee for its next meeting.
At its final meeting in the Spring of 1992, the CIMI Committee assessed the sample transactions displayed in each of the three possible standards to determine: 1) How much of the presumed data required by museums could each convey? 2) How much further specification would each require in order to define an implementation for museums? 3) How much overhead would each incur in a theoretical model of museum interchange? 4) How intelligible would each be to museum staff? 5) What software and network services were already available in the market to support each method? 6) How difficult it would be for application vendors in the museum software marketplace to develop input/output routines which format data according to the standard? And secondly, whether computer staff of institutions using in-house systems would be able to write such routines. 7) How complex it would be for the community to effect the standard? Whether existing implementations could be readily changed without significant museum community investment? 8) What other benefits or drawbacks were associated with the use of each protocol? Whether the protocol(s) would assist museums to achieve their missions after data was interchanged?
The Committee did not initially come to a unanimous decision. All but two members felt that SGML provided on the whole the greatest advantages for collections related data interchange. One member felt that ISO 2709, the MARC format framework, best supported some types of data, especially object surrogates or citations. One member felt that ASN.1 best supported some types of interchange, especially scientific and research data.
In the end the Committee unanimously adopted a compromise statement that it had examined all three options for museum collections and catalog information use. Each might have relevance depending on the type of information being interchanged and its intended uses. The differences between the three approaches were expressed as how well they might handle a particular type of data and how easy it might be for the museum community to use them.
It was agreed that more research was necessary and to further clarify options the CIMI Project Manager would continue working with Task Groups, once they finished defining their data requirements, to develop interchange services using any or all of the three options.
From the outset, the CIMI Initiative was designed to involve partnerships with representatives of specialized museum professions (registrars, conservators, curators) and discipline-oriented museums (art, history, science) who would be responsible for defining the specific data requirements of their community. CIMI encouraged existing groups to join the initiative and helped form new working group. These Task Groups were to define the information they needed to interchange, and the CIMI staff would develop the technical specifications for the desired service. By working together each partner would contribute necessary expertise. Computer experts would not end up dictating content and museum professionals would not be forced to make decisions about technical protocols.
The first Task Group to become affiliated with CIMI was the Art Information Task Force (AITF), a working body of the College Art Association and the Getty Art History Information Program, whose special interest was in the interchange of scholarly information about art objects. The second Task Group was formed with the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) to follow up on the AASLH Common Agenda Database Task Force and to find ways of fulfilling an interest among cultural history institutions in information interchange. A third Task Group arose from the interests of registrars of several large art museums that regularly lent exhibitions and wanted to interchange data about the loans with each other and agents in the process such as shippers, brokers and insurers.
These Task Groups were encouraged to describe their interchange service requirements in their own terms, specifying the data they needed to send/receive and the functions of a systems which would serve them. As of March 1993, one Task Group has completed this process and one is very near completion. The CIMI Project Manager is assisting the Task Groups to express their requirements formally and technically in an "interchange service definition" or in the structures provided for content definition in an existing protocol whose services are already defined. Once this formal definition is complete, the interchange service can be implemented by museum software vendors and network service providers.
In this chapter we begin the recapitulation of the intellectual discovery process in which the CIMI Committee engaged to formulate the CIMI Standards Framework. The first step is to understand the concept of information systems standards and the issues associated with their development and maintenance. The CIMI Committee found it useful to understand the nature of standards creating organizations and their relationships so that it could better distinguish the Committee's role of defining the needs for standards within a narrow disciplinary community.
Every professional community in the modern world is engaged in the development of standards;indeed sociologists view the adoption of standards as a defining characteristic of professionalism. In the contemporary developed world many of the standards which professions must adopt deal with information critical to communication between and within organizations. The U.S. archival community (Walch, 1989) and the international museum community (Roberts, 1992) have recently restated the benefits of adopting standards, citing enhanced professional practice and increased access to information as primary. The success and pace at which standards have been adopted is driven by desire, need, benefit and not surprisingly, economic potential.
+----------------------------------------------------------------------------+ | | | Standards: | | | | - Encourage consistency which leads to increased | | understanding and communication. | | | | - Provide guidelines and models that reduce duplication of | | effort and build on the effort of others. | | | | - Enhance access and control of information that | | contributes to better professional practice and greater | | access to knowledge. | | | +----------------------------------------------------------------------------+ Figure 2: The Benefits of Standards
While standards are sometimes promulgated by a single powerful market source (and commonly referred-to as de facto standards), the standards on which the CIMI Standards Framework is based are those negotiated through a voluntary development process
Internationally, negotiated standards affect all types of information transfer, and the number of active standards development bodies is staggering. Standards bodies use a consensus building process to gain approval for new proposals and revisions. They rely on expert input to create standards. And they coordinate their activities with other standards bodies around the world. While these practices contribute to the somewhat baroque landscape of standards bodies , they do ensure a process for input into the creation and revision of standards through a gestation period which often exceeds four years.
[Insert Figure 3: Standards bodies and their interrelationships] Figure 3, Standards Bodies and their Interrelationships, diagrams the relationships between some of the international and national standards bodies with direct relevance to CIMI.
Voluntary standards bodies are related to each other in a jurisdictional hierarchy. International governmental organizations formed by treaty among United Nations member countries include the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). National governmental representatives are accredited to represent each country within the standards setting process in these organizations. Other international standards bodies such as the ISO are nongovernmental, created by mutual consent of interested parties. They are likewise fed by national organizations organized along the same lines. Sometimes committees from the two types of standards setting bodies decide to work together if their areas of interest overlap. For example, a group known as "JTC1" which is important to museum information standardization efforts was formed as the first joint technical committee of the IEC and ISO. Typically, standards setting bodies at all jurisdictional levels are divided into committees and subcommittees along disciplinary or industry sector lines like steel, aircraft parts, agriculture, or information technology. These, in turn, have working groups resulting in a remarkably complex hierarchy. For example, as shown in Figure 3, ISO Technical Committee 46 (TC46) which deals with information and documentation has a number of Subcommittees dealing with such issues as transliteration (SC2), Physical Keeping of Documents (SC10), Computer Applications (SC4). SC4 in turn has a number of Working Groups (WG) that deal with Character Sets (WG1), Commands for Interactive Search Systems (WG5), data elements (WG7), and format structures for bibliographic information (WG4). Each working group may be responsible for one or many individual standards; WG4 is responsible for ISO 2709.
Within these working groups standards are developed by consensus via a highly structured process. Once an area is identified as having a need for standardization (and this can come internally, or externally by an interest group such as CIMI) the issue is assigned to one of the working committees or a new committee is formed. As discussion occurs over the first 1-2 years, gradually a draft standard is developed that is circulated for review. Comments are received, and any formal objections are noted through a voting process. This continues iteratively until there are no outstanding formal objections. The votes are cast by accredited national members of the body who almost always defer to their membership for directions on how to cast their ballots.
Each TC, SC and WG has a secretariat and a convener who manages the group activities. Liaisons and rapporteurs act as conduits of information in and out of the working committees and are recognized official functions in most standards bodies. It is common for most SC and WG to maintain liaisons with each other as well as with other standards bodies resulting in a complex web of interactions.
Figure 4, Standards Bodies and their areas of interest, shows graphically the relationships between standards organizations and their activities.
The official U.S. national standards body is ANSI, the voluntary coordinator of roughly 180 member organizations who represent commerce, industry, public sector and consumer interests. ANSI doesn't actually develop standards, rather it recommends standards proposed by its affiliated organizations such as the Electronics Industry Association (EIA), the Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM), the Accredited Standards Committee 12 (ASC X12 established to created standards for electronic data interchange for business transactions), or the National Information Standards Organization (NISO).
ANSI also represents the interests of the U.S. in other international standards areas such as the Consultative Committee on International Telephone and Telegraph (CCITT) and ISO. ISO publishes technical standards in all areas except electrical and electronic engineering which is the responsibility of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).
NISO publishes and coordinates all standards having to do with documentation, publishing, information sciences and libraries in the U.S. in its capacity as the Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to ANSI. NISO in turn forms committees and working groups to develop standards proposals. These committees rely on expert input from the community effected by the proposed standards and NISO encourages the broadest possible review and comment on draft standards. This is also typical of the operation of other national standards bodies such as the Standards Council of Canada (SCC) or the British Standards Institute (BSI).
[Insert Figure 4: Standards bodies and their areas of interest]
During this investigation of standards organizations, the CIMI Committee learned that even though standards making involves all interested parties, the existence of a standard does not mean that it will be implemented fully, quickly, or even at all. Some standards represent excellent ideas but are not implemented by the industry for market reasons. Other standards may be formulated by a group which is insufficiently aware of the overlap between its concerns and that of other standards organizations resulting in a standard which is a subset or superset of another effort which has powerful industry support. Identifying which standards will be widely adopted, and become "standard", is an issue with which CIMI is acquainted.
A brief description of various standards related to museum data interchange and cited in this report is found in Appendix A.
To date there has been little interest in the museum community in developing interchange formats beyond ASCII text transfer. Only CIDOC, and the Conservation Information Network (CIN) have embraced an external data communications format (both have adopted ISO 2709) but to date no significant quantity of museum object data has been directly exchanged in this format. The most active museum interaction with international standards efforts has been through CIDOC. CIMI developed and continues a close working relationship with CIDOC because of its central role in international museum standards development. CIDOC is a liaison to all the working groups of TC46 and has recently asked CIMI Project Manager John Perkins to serve in that position. CIMI and CIDOC are collaborating on presenting a high-level reference model of a Museums and Cultural Heritage Documentation Standards Framework as presented in Chapter V. Additionally, CIMI is working with CIDOC's Reconciliation of Data Standards Working Group (RDSWG) to propose a common strategy for adopting the emerging ISO TC46/SC4/WG6 framework for the generation, naming and standardization of data elements.
National museum organizations have not been active in interchange standards efforts. In the U.S., the library and archives communities have played active roles in standards initiatives but there is no similar representation from the museum community on US standards bodies. No US museum professional association including even the MCN, has an official relationship to a national standard body. Only recently have museum professionals been involved in ISO/IEC JTC1 SC29 (Multi and Hypermedia), as representatives of the museum profession and not for individual interest. Participation by US museum libraries in OCLC, RLIN and other bibliographic networks using ISO 2709 has not greatly influenced the curatorial or educational functions in museums or resulted in much museum collection data being exchanged over these networks.
National museum organizations in the UK and Canada have not adopted international interchange standards. CHIN uses the "Microtext" format, a set of conventions using ASCII files, to exchange records between their mainframe's BASIS software and microcomputers. The Museum Documentation Association has not played any role in developing interchange standards although it licenses a proprietary data entry package.
In spite of this inattention to interchange standards, museums have attempted to formulate data content standards which would be important to communication once interchange mechanisms are developed. In the UK, the Museum Documentation Association (MDA) has promulgated a documentation standard since 1977. The MDA has established its Museum Object Data Standard as a proposed national standard in the UK for both manual and automated systems. Roughly 350 copies of the software package MODES (Museum Object Data Entry System) are in use in the UK making it a de facto content standard for many UK museums.
In Canada, CHIN has promoted common definitions of data elements in its institutional and national databases over the past twenty years. To date there is little indication that any commercial museum system anywhere in the world will obtain sufficient market share to be considered a de facto standard.
Standards frameworks are conceptual models that represent the domain to which standards apply, the user needs and requirements in that domain, and the standards indicated to satisfy them. Often the framework is represented graphically. Standards frameworks have proven invaluable in clarifying the complex relationships between needs and methods of addressing them and in expressing those relationships to others. CIMI examined a number of standards frameworks for both technical relevance and operational inspiration and identified three which served both functions: OSI, OSE and CALS.
OSI, or the Open System Interconnection framework was proposed in 1977 by ISO/IEC JTC1/SC21 to allow differing computer systems to interwork for the main purposes of exchanging files, electronic messaging, logging on to the other's system and submitting jobs. The framework is encapsulated in the seven layer OSI Reference Model (ISO 7498-1984 ISORM) which provides a conceptual framework for understanding how discrete functions within the complex process of computer communication can build an end to end communication capability (Figure 5).
When articulated, it was a call for construction of standards that would permit each "layer" of communication functionality to operate independently of each other layer so that a message might be successfully conveyed between machines running on different electrical current, or operating different network software and configurations. The model has been so successful that there are now dozens of individual standards specifying technical characteristics of functions at each layer in the model.
[Insert Figure 5: OSI Reference Model ISORM ISO 7498-1 1984]
OSI is important to CIMI both because it demonstrates how a framework can stimulate the creation of appropriate standards and because it locates the standards of greatest interest to CIMI and allows the museum community to adopt other standards within the overall OSI suite with confidence that they will not impact on museum specific functional requirements. Specifically, the standards of interest to CIMI are limited to the two highest layers in the Reference Model: the Application and Presentation layers, which together ensure that any information exchanged among systems is in a commonly understood form. The other five layers are concerned with the physical connection and transmission processes. CIMI is thereby free to adopt all these standards with knowledge that they will assist in achieving communication.
In the Application Layer all the system independent functions supported by the OSI Reference Model interface to the application dependent functions of the end user software system. This end user software might support functions such as collections management, point-of-sale data capture, word processing, facilities management, etc. but it will do so using common underlying standards for data representation, such as ASCII for text or JPEG compression for images, file management, such as File Transfer, Access and Management or FTAM (ISO 8571), or messaging, such as MOTIS (ISO 8505, 8883, 9065) now a widely accepted electronic mail standard.
In the Presentation Layer, standards define how the digital bits (encoded 1 or 0) are to be grouped together to represent information that will be meaningful to the operating system of the computer or the display system of a monitor or printer. For example, ASN.1 (ISO 8824 and 8825) prescribes how information units can be taken from the local system's encoding scheme (called an Abstract Syntax), transformed to a mutually agreed upon encoding scheme (called the Transfer Syntax) for transmission to the destination system where it will be retransformed into that local Abstract Syntax. Similarly, the Computer Graphics Metafile (GCM) standard translates representations of data so they can be displayed on a variety of different devices.
Recently a standards framework which extends OSI has been proposed to reflect that interchange requires more than the connection of two computers. To make application software and data portable and system independent a standards framework called the Open Systems Environment (OSE) has been developed by IEEE and promoted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in the U.S. Figure 6 depicts the Open Systems Environment model as applied to museums by Judi Moline, a member of the NIST staff who is active in MCN and CIMI.
[Insert Figure 6: The Open Systems Environment for Museums after Moline] [Insert Figure 7: The CALS Conceptual Architecture]
What the model depicts is an application software environment which relies on generic functions provided by the "application platform" which are in turn mediated through an application platform interface layer consisting of a wide variety of standards. The designer of an application, if he employs these standards, can count on delivery of the appropriate services independent of the platform on which the software is running. Similarly, the designers of software for platforms (operating systems) can count on managing the external environment and its different devices and resources, if they follow the standards of the external environment interface.
During the life of the CIMI Initiative, the US Defense Department launched a much vaster initiative to exploit standards to achieve efficiencies in the design, manufacture, procurement, delivery, maintenance and use of military equipment. This Computer Aided Acquisition and Logistics Support (CALS) program developed a standards framework which was particularly interesting to CIMI. With billions of dollars to spend, the military could have simply issued specifications requiring all systems it acquired to have certain defined capabilities, but instead it chose in CALS to seek adherence to a comprehensive suite of ISO standards. Defense analysts reasoned that this would allow competition from firms worldwide for military business and provide a stronger foundation for interoperability than dictating special defense department requirements. In the longer term CALS would build commercial competitiveness and reduce costs, as well as give assurance of continuing operability. In other words, they were driven to OSI and OSE by the same pressures that brought the museum community there even though, or especially because, they have billions of dollars to spend. FIGURE 7 represents CALS architecture, an extension of the concept of open systems by the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD).
CALS was interesting to CIMI for two reasons: it is an example of the use of a standards framework to achieve a large-scale efficiency in communication, and because CALS in fact solves the same problems that beset museum communications. CALS information is about military equipment, or artifacts and their component parts, from design of the parts by one subcontractor, to their assembly by the prime contractor, through their delivery, maintenance, resupply, repair and replacement. As such, CALS, like museum documentation, depends on communication of software independent representations of material artifacts and the organizational and social processes by which they are related.
The proposed CALS framework is an elegant model incorporating open systems standards communications and data encoding which has now been widely adopted by the military's of US allies and by the producers of much of the equipment required by the military/industrial complex including commercial aircraft. We hope the CIMI Standards Framework presented in the next few chapters is equally elegant and compelling albeit to a different audience.
Interchange takes place when information in one system is transferred to another system where it can be processed. Figure 8 shows the concept of interchange schematically.3
The information held in user application A is converted into interchange formats to be sent to B. The interchange format is simply a neutral way of laying out the data, typically neither the way the sending nor receiving system uses it, but which is standard so that a sender can make a single translation to the neutral format for communication to all the potential users. And vice versa, a recipient can make a single translation from the neutral format for communication with any number of senders. Ideally these translations from native application format (internal schema) to the interchange format (external schema) are built into the application software or a separate application which does nothing but translate. A fully satisfactory format will lose no information in translation and hence be fully reversible.
As reflected in Figure 8, interchange formats rely on lower level OSI standards for data transfer protocols and network transport protocols to move the formatted information between systems. The interchange involves the moving of data down through these layers of encoding and back up. If information for interchange is structured independently, the information may be moved from application to application within a single system environment or may be transported via telecommunications or other media to another system with equal ease.
[Insert Figure 8: Conceptual representation of interchange]
Interchange is not something that just happens if two parties or a community decide to do it. Detailed agreements usually have to be negotiated by the exchanging parties to make it work. The reason is that interchange involves not simply the movement of data from one system to another, but the transfer of information in a processable form. To make data into information, both parties must understand its meaning and content; to make information processable, both parties must understand the purpose of the interchange as well as the structure and form of the data.
Ultimately the museum community will have to reach agreement in four areas to have successful interchange. These four areas are defined with extreme formality by an ISO Technical Report (ISO/IEC JTC1 SC21 Document N4903: Methodology and Guidelines for the Development of Application Layer Standards.) and shown in Figure 9.
The interchange agreements must be made explicit and formal in a service definition which is a detailed specification of the consecutive processes of a transaction. For example, a service definition for the processing of a request for a loan would specify what would be in it, from whom it might come, what should be done with it and what information is expected by way of reply.
[Insert Figure 9: Agreements needed for interchange]
The type, quantity and degree of formalization of the agreements necessary for interchange vary depending on the complexity of the processing functions being supported and the technical dependencies of the data. For example, for a simple exchange of ASCII text files on disk, the Conceptual Agreement is based on the inference that I have a document you want to read. The Semantic Agreement that it is a document, in English, with paragraphs etc. is also likely to have been inferred. The Representation and Communication Protocol agreements were made when we proposed to exchange ASCII files for the DOS or Macintosh operating system and when we agreed to send a disk by mail. It is relatively simple to have interchanges of ASCII files on diskette because the necessary agreements are fully supported by widespread standards and because our processing requirements are of a very low level. Similarly, meaning is conveyed by means of literary and typographical convention surrounding the form of text in a fax.
For interchange of structured data we need to indicate the relationships in the structure such as fields in records, links between records, and links between contents of fields. "Comma Delimited" ASCII is a simple format for communicating the existence of a field break with a comma. Once fields of information are marked, we could communicate even more by naming each field. We could get an even greater payoff by representing the content of each field in a standard way so that the receiving system can process it directly. If the agreement communicates that the content of a field is a date, the system can process it more intelligently. If in addition it specifies whether the data value '3/7/93' means March 7th or July 3rd, it can act appropriately on the data it receives. Content agreements can be quite complex, as are the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules (AACRII), used in library cataloguing.
Each community of users must agree on common definitions based on its specific applications. For example, date may well be defined as a year in the field for date of creation of an artifact, but defined as a day in the field for date of birth of an artist. The communication protocol will not assure the "correct" meaning of 3/7/93; only the data value standards adopted by participants in the interchange can do this. But users need also know that the interchange does not constrain their representation of the same data within their own system as 7/3/93 or their system keeping the month and day of creation of an artifact even if the interchange requires only the year. In other words, common definition of the interchange data is critical to accurate communication but it does not dictate the organization, representation, or more detailed definition of data within the user's own system.
Finally, for interchange which is part of an interdepartmental or inter-institutional process, the interchange agreements must be made explicit and formal in a service definition which is a detailed specification of the consecutive processes of a transaction. For example, a service definition for the processing of a request for a loan would specify what data it would contain, who is authorized to make such requests, what should be done with the data received and what information is expected by way of reply.
At its first two meetings the CIMI committee considered the requirements for the CIMI Standards Framework and suggested 14 functional requirements and 3 requirements of the standards development process itself. FIGURE 10 summarizes the requirements grouped under the headings Functional and Process. This section discusses how the functional requirements shaped the definition of interchange needs of museums upon which the Standards Framework for CIMI is based. The process requirements shaped how the CIMI Committee conducted its work.
The first two requirements listed in Figure 10 reflected one of the important contributions of CIMI to setting museum standards: the recognition that standards must be specific and appropriate to particular applications. The first of the functional requirements, that the CIMI Standards Framework must carry information for all museum application, led the CIMI Committee to conduct a brainstorming session at which it identified all the museum applications known to potentially require data interchange. The second requirement, that the standards should identify the museum application for which the interchange is intended led CIMI staff to analyze this list in order to cluster applications according to the particular types of standards applicable to them. From this emerged the concept of a matrix of standards discussed in the next chapter.
The third through sixth requirements reflected the knowledge CIMI Committee members had of the variety and complexity of data related to museum objects. Based on this knowledge, the Committee was able to state in advance that the standards would need to carry a great deal of data, a wide variety of types of data, numerous methods of representation, and possibly even permit the interchange of some data before its meaning was agreed to by exchanging parties.
The range of all possible types of data to be carried is diverse. From the interchange applications predicted in the near-term, the identifiable types included character based alphanumeric text in free and fielded format and continuous tone, bi-level, and raster images. A specific requirement was to enable the bi-directional interchange of data in all existing USMARC formats. The Committee concluded that in the midterm (5 years out) museum applications will evolve and technology advance to require facilities for interchange of vector graphics for Computer-aided design, binary files including multimedia, and sampled analog data such as sound or waveform, and linked hypermedia and time synchronized data. In the longer term even this list will need extension as other types are identified. Standards above the data representation level must be insulated from the nature of the data.
Multiple data representation methods must be accommodated. Textual information may be represented in a variety of alphabets, each encoded in a number of possible schemes from 7 bit ASCII through to emerging 32 or 16 bit standards for text encoding such as ISO 10646 or UNICODE. Images, graphics, and sound may be represented in different manners, each appropriate to differing degrees of fidelity, compression schemes, or simply representing a lack of a dominant standard. Any or all may be encountered in a single functional interchange. As the Committee learned more about OSI however, it became clear that the requirement to carry different kinds of data within a single session was satisfied by lower level OSI standards.
Especially given the potential need to interchange multimedia data objects which are often very large digitally encoded files, there must be no limiting restrictions on the size of records and the amount of data capable of being interchanged.
+----------------------------------------------------------------------------+ | | | Requirements for the CIMI Standards Framework | | | | | | Functional Requirements | | | | 1. The CIMI Standards Framework must carry information from | | any museum application; | | | | 2. Identify the application for which the interchange is intended; | | | | 3. Carry a variety of data types such as text, image, binary, | | graphic; | | | | 4. Accommodate the declaration or specification of multiple | | data types in the interchange session; | | | | 5. Accommodate multiple transmission protocols in a single | | interchange session; | | | | 6. Support a variety of data representation methods; | | | | 7. Support a range of media transmission options including | | magnetic, optical, 7 and 8 bit telecommunications, dynamic | | data exchange; | | | | 8. Accommodate the quantity of data needed with no restrictions on | | the size of records and the amount of data capable of being | | interchanged; | | | | 9. Carry information for one or more application purposes in a | | single interchange; | | | | 10. Support realtime, batch, and interactive modes of operation | | as applications require; | | | | 11. Enable interchange transactions not fully specified in | | advance; | | | | 12. Carry content independent of sending or receiving system, | | application, or implementation data model; | | | | 13. Support migration of data among systems and be compatible | | with existing network held data with limited loss; | | | | 14. Be both possible and practical to implement on a wide variety | | of systems. | | | | | | Process Requirements | | | | The effort must: | | | | 1. Produce results without excessive implementation costs; | | | | 2. Provide a mechanism for resolution of issues; | | | | 3. Adopt appropriate extant national and international standards. | | | | | +----------------------------------------------------------------------------+ Figure 10: Functional Requirements for the CIMI Standards Framework
The Committee was happy to discover that the seventh through tenthrequirements on its initial list were satisfied by adopting the open systems model and its associated standards. Thus museums didn't need to construct standards specifically to support a range of media transmission options, accommodate multiple transmission protocols in a single interchange session, carry information for one or more museum applications in a single interchange session or support batch, and realtime interactive modes of operation as applications require.
In addition, the requirements numbered 11-14 were found to be either unnecessary to state or conceptually impossible to satisfy. For example, while all the protocols enabled interchange of transactions not fully specified in advance, the meaning of data received in this way would by definition be unknown to the receiving system, so the value of the interchange would be minimal. It was thought desirable to have a declarative capability within an interchange session allowing transactions to carry sufficient information about them to allow intelligent reception by receiving systems without complete prior agreements, but no actual need for this, not to mention the feasibility, has been demonstrated.
As more was learned about the role of standard formats as a neutral vehicle between two internal schemas we realized the requirement to carry content independent of sending or receiving system, application, or implementation data model was partly inherent in our definition of interchange and partly the responsibility of the Task Groups specifying data content requirements for services. The same conclusion was reached about the requirement to support migration of data between systems and be compatible with existing network held data with limited loss.
Finally, the requirement that the standards be both possible and practical to implement on a wide variety of systems was deemed important by all. The best way to assure this was to build the CIMI Standards Framework around existing frameworks such as OSI and OSE which were already impacting on the availability of standard methods on a wide variety of platforms and in many software environments.
While exploring museum functional requirements, the CIMI Committee developed a list of museum applications that could involve interchange. This is shown in Figure 11.
Because CIMI had decided in principle to adopt interchange protocols, methods and standards that were already in service, it made sense to cluster the museum applications involving interchange in such a way that they corresponded with services in existing standards frameworks. Those frameworks suggested that interchange applications would employ the discrete suites of standards in building databases, exchanging messages, consulting databases, transmitting files, and conducting business transactions. Therefore, the CIMI list categorized museum applications as shown in Figure 12.
+----------------------------------------------------------------------------+ | | | | | Museum Applications potentially requiring interchange applications | | | | | | archives management loans processing | | authority building location control | | catalog access mail order sales | | cataloguing and description maintenance scheduling | | collections management movement control | | communications/terminal emulation material management | | conservation management name list management | | contacts management office automation | | database building, management personal research information | | decision support management | | event management personnel management | | exhibition management point of sale | | exhibition design project accounting | | file management project management | | fund raising management public access | | fund accounting publishing | | image management record management | | image retrieval remote access | | image processing research support system | | information retrieval reservations | | inventory control security | | invoicing subscription fulfillment | | library management ticketing | | list management tour management | | volunteer management | | | | | +----------------------------------------------------------------------------+ Figure 11: Museum Applications potentially involving interchange
+----------------------------------------------------------------------------+ | | | | | Museum Application | Activity | Examples | | | | | | Database Building | creating records, | Union catalogues, | | | editing, deleting | cooperative | | | | cataloguing, scope of | | | | collections, authority | | | | files, directories | | | | | | Information Retrieval | accessing stored | public access | | | information | catalogues, | | | | bibliographic | | | | databases, full text, | | | | directories, reference | | | | databases | | | | | | Business Transactions | electronic data | purchasing, order | | | interchange | fulfilment, loans | | | | processing, financial | | | | transactions, | | | | exhibition management | | | | | | Messaging | messaging services | email, conferencing, | | | | document exchange | | | | | | File Transfer | binary transfer | exchange of scientific | | | | data, data migration, | | | | media exchange | | | | | | Document Handling | document processing | correspondence, | | | | cooperative | | | | publichsing, research | | | | | | Real-time Links | machine-to-machine | interactive training, | | | | interactive exhibits, | | | | monitoring | | | | | +----------------------------------------------------------------------------+ Figure 12: Museum Applications and Their Interchange Requirements
Museums document their collections and build reference databases on people, organizations, places and events which played a role in the creation, trade and use of objects within the scope of their collections. Typically when museum professionals think of information interchange they think first about inter-institutional exchange of data about collections at the object level, however, our research suggests that there is less demand for interchange of this information than is initially envisioned. When museums do exchange this data to construct shared databases or union catalogues they obtain none of the economic advantages which libraries realize from being able to use such databases for copy cataloguing because museum objects are typically unique. Collection related information exchange seems to be more valuable for museums when the object of description is the collection or even the repository. This concept, well established in the archival community, was introduced to museums by the Common Agenda Database Task Force and is being further developed by the Cultural History Information Task Group of CIMI.
Museums do have a great interest in the exchange and copying of data about individuals, organizations, places and events associated with collection objects. These files of authoritative information which relate to entities other than the objects in collections are essential to research and to make links between objects for interpretation. Information about people in many roles (makers, donors, lenders, vendors), manufacturers, geographical locations, and events are commonly mentioned as being shareable, cooperatively developed or maintained, or consulted in reference fashion.
Museums also need to share vocabularies, thesauri, name lists, and classification systems which are used to index objects in collections. The Art and Architecture Thesaurus (now available electronically), classification schemes such as Iconclass, Linnean Taxonomy, and AASLH's Revised Nomenclature, artist names (Getty AHIP's Union List of Artist Names, CHIN's Artists in Canada), and geographic place names could enjoy more widespread implementation if interchange standards were adopted.
Research use of database information does not usually require the exchange of complete databases or of records being contributed to a central database, but depends rather on information retrieval. Standards for information retrieval should permit a user of one museum system to make inquiries into the public information on another museum system from a different vendor and receive a response through the familiar interface of his or her own system. With the growing use of the Internet by museums and scholarly organizations, information retrieval standards would result in the creation of large "virtual databases" comprised of many different systems, distributed in location but accessible through a single protocol.
There seems to be general agreement about the utility of a broad range of general reference bases used primarily in a consultative manner. Interest ranges from the expected bibliographic, abstracts/index through to taxonomic types, international law, administrative information relating to collections such as access policies and hours of operation, and conservation materials. This interest is substantiated both by the experience of information service providers such as CHIN and RLG who receive constant requests for such services, in the articulated needs of potential users, and in actual usage demonstrated by the Conservation Information Network. The library community has recently led the way in this area by developing and promoting a protocol for information retrieval which many vendors and networks are now implementing.
All organizations engage in transactions involving outside firms. Over the past decade, methods have been developed for many such transactions to be conducted electronically. We are all acquainted with the effect of this change as we use Automatic Teller Machines and enjoy the benefits of automatic reordering of inventory at the grocery. Museums conduct many of the same activities as any other business or organization; they manage facilities, operate retail and mail order operations, order supplies, manage staff. These activities involve a variety of forms-based transaction-oriented information interchange applications that are increasingly conducted in the commercial sector by EDI. When cost-effective, museums might move towards electronic transactions in these areas as well.
In addition, museums and other cultural repositories such as libraries and archives, engage in collections management activities which involve transactions specific to themselves, including acquisitions, loans, and numerous aspects of exhibition management. Specific obligatory relations are created in the course of these transactions which are now conducted on paper using the mail and fax. For example, deeds of gift must be executed, insurance and customs arrangements made, shippers arranged, loans requested and recalled. Libraries have again pioneered here in developing electronic ordering of books and electronic interlibrary loan requests, and museums have much to gain if they could electronically interchange the complex transactions surrounding exhibitions which otherwise must be rekeyed in numerous systems many times.
In an era of interconnected computers, the most widely used application service is message handling. The increased availability of electronic mail has stimulated interest in messaging and communications services for museums. A variety of list servers, bulletin boards, conferencing services, and interpersonal and inter-institutional communications in museums use electronic mail because the foundation standards for these services have been put in place by others.
The interchange of documents which look and act the way their authors wanted them to regardless of the receiving system has long been a goal of interchange. Museums would like to control the way their catalogues or even their correspondence looked to the recipients for the same reasons other institutions do. Museums also have the same need to be able to communicate documents to printers complete with appropriate mark up and to reformat documents created for one purpose without rekeying them. Document handling standards have been defined to support all these kinds of requirements, but as yet they have not been broadly implemented in commercial software because of their complexity and because many users do not have a strong enough requirement for final form document interchange to make it commercially necessary to provide such functions. It is anticipated that document handling functionality will be an increasingly important requirement in many business sectors in the next decade and standards for document handling will be more widely implemented. Meanwhile, in museums, the emphasis will be on interchange of the logical components of documents and the retention of whatever structure authors have created when the document is transferred to another system.
Sometimes institutions want to move entire data sets from one system to another. The purpose may be to replace the existing system (data migration), or to have a copy in a different location or integrated into another application. Examples of useful file transfer include publishing catalogues, printing gallery labels incorporating collections data, downloading specimen records to a customs broker or sending a research database to a colleague. These applications in museums are sufficiently generic that there are well established protocols for them in business computing.
Interactive exhibits and training, environmental and security monitoring, and programming often require one computer, with or without a human operator, to work directly on a remote system. Each of these categories employs a variety of standards which together establish semantic, data representation, and communication protocol agreement. Within these there are several dominant standards that could provide the technical methods for museum interchange functions.
This chapter examines the representative international standards that relate to the museum interchange applications introduced in Chapter III. It examines how specific standards differ in capabilities or approaches but is intended to be as simple and nontechnical as possible without being misleading; readings listed in the bibliography provide more technical detail.
The CIMI Committee recognized that standards for interchange of museum information should result from adoption of existing standards whenever possible since museums had neither the technical expertise nor marketplace clout to develop de facto standards for any part of the interchange except data content.
The first area explored by the CIMI committee was what CIMI referred to as "lower level" communications and media standards. The museum community need not invent any ISO level 1-4 or their equivalent standards to support interchange of its data. Included in this are the CCITT X.25 series for packet-switched networks, CCITT I series for ISDN, TCP/IP for Internet, the IEEE 802 series for Local Area Networks, ANSI X.3 for FDDI (Fiber Distributed Data Interface), RS- 232 and CCITT V series for modems and other media formatting standards such as ISO 9660 for CD-ROM.
+----------------------------------------------------------------------------+ | | | | | Packet Switched Networks CCITT X.25 | | | | ISDN CCITT I series | | | | Internet TCP/IP | | | | LANS IEEE 802 series | | | | FDDI ANSI X.3 148, 149 | | | | Modems CCITT V series | | | | CD-ROM ISO 9660 | | | | | +----------------------------------------------------------------------------+ Figure 13: Lower Layer Telecommunications, Media, or Network Standards
CIMI also concluded that underlying data representation standards such as ASCII, CCITT Group 3 and 4 facsimile, JPEG, MHEG, CGM ,TIFF, and CD Audio should be followed by museums regardless of the interchange application. It recognizes, however, that while the framework can sound definitive on this issue, concrete recommendations are often difficult to formulate because standards, especially in the area of video compression, are undergoing rapid development and implementations are lagging behind the adoption of new standards.
Figure 14 shows the standards that support each of the functional areas. Each of these standards supports one or more of the museum applications in the areas of business and curatorial information interchange involving textual and multimedia information, scientific measurements, citations and business obligations. Of course not all interchange applications pertain to all museum applications and in some cases a technical protocol or standard may support more than one interchange application. It is also the case that more than one interchange application will be necessary to support a particular museum application.
Data representation and data content and value (the structure and meaning of the data) standards have not been included in Figure 14. They both play an essential role in successful interchange but have to be defined separately from the standards that support interchange.
+----------------------------------------------------------------------------+ | | | | | InterchangeFunctions SupportingStandards | | | | Database Building ISO 2709, ISO 8824,25 ASN.1, ISO 8879 | | SGML | | | | Information Retrieval ISO 10162/63 Information Retrieval, | | ISO 9579-1 RDA, ISO 9579-2 SQL for RDA, | | ISO 9594/X.500 Directory | | | | Business Transactions ANSI X.12 EDI, ISO 9735 EDIFACT, ISO | | 10021/CCITT X.400 Message Handling, ISO | | 10160/10161 Interlibrary Loan | | | | Message Handling ISO 9594/X.500 Directory, ISO 10021/CCITT | | X.400, ISO 9735 EDIFACT | | | | File transfer ISO 8571-74 FTAM, FTP, XMODEM, KERMIT | | | | Document handling ISO 8613 ODA/ODIF, ISO 8879 SGML, | | | | Real-Time Links ISO 9040,41 Virtual Terminal ISO 8648, | | 8348, 8072 | | | | | +----------------------------------------------------------------------------+ Figure 14: Conventions and Standards supporting Interchange
The CIMI Committee first looked at interchange standards for database building that support the creation of Collections Catalogues and Reference Databases.
CIMI identified three approaches to interchange of database records for construction of shared catalogues, reference databases and authority files: ISO 2709 (Information Interchange), ISO 8824 (ASN.1) and its Basic Encoding Rules (ISO 8825), and ISO 8879 (SGML).
The CIMI Committee requested an analysis of the three options to support the building of collections catalogues and reference databases which addressed the following specific issues:
The Committee concluded that each set of standards had strengths and weaknesses and that these might warrant different decisions by museums in interchange of different types of data and for different purposes. To assist its review, the CIMI Committee had experts illustrate the way that museum records would be interchanged using each of the three standards and provide their views on the suitability of each. A summary of their positions and assessment of the conclusions museums can reach from them is presented below. The details are available in the CIMI briefing paper "Options for Computer Interchange of Museum Information (Perkins 1992).
ANSI Z39.2 is the USA equivalent to ISO 2709 which is used hereafter. A more detailed description of ISO 2709 is found in Appendix A.
ISO 2709 is a content-independent specification of fielded text for data exchange. Its primary advantage is that it is widely used by libraries, archives and visual resource collections worldwide. A large market of commercial software has developed capabilities to import and export data in this form. A secondary advantage is that the record structure is simple for humans to understand. A disadvantage is that the ISO 2709 protocol has length limits and data representation restrictions stated within the standard itself or defined in existing implementations. Another disadvantage is that the process for defining content standards involves cooperating with either the relatively elaborate maintenance framework established by the library community or maintaining a parallel content standards maintenance function because fields cannot have more than one meaning. Other disadvantages are; existing parsers have been developed to read MARC records (an specific implementation of ISO 2709) not generalized ISO 2709; and, ISO 2709 does not allow the creation of an envelope into which other content may be placed so it cannot encapsulate data in formats other than its own, though it may point to them.
Museums should use MARC fields and AACRII content rules for bibliographic citations within other databases to facilitate linking. Museums will also want to consider related content designations such as UNISIST for abstracting and indexing or TEI Bibliographic control structures for descriptions of machine- readable texts. While these three are not seamlessly compatible there are similarities. Perhaps interest by museums will help convergence and harmonization to occur.
Museums should also consider ISO 2709 for interchange of data regarding collections of books, archives, and visual materials such as architectural drawings for which content standards are well developed within MARC and for which links can be made to materials held by institutions other than museums. Exceptions to this might be if the content model was represented in a way different from MARC (eg if the data content model developed by the Foundation for Documents on Architecture was implemented) or if the content as represented by MARC fields was expressed in another format such as SGML/SDIF for interchange.
SGML, and its associated standards HyTime (ISO 10744), and SGML Data Interchange Format (ISO 9069 SDIF), are methods to denote the structure of free, fielded, or formatted text and to link these with associated images and sounds. The strength of the SGML-based standards is that they permit logical content designation of any data, including data represented in other standards, and can specify specific physical presentations of that data as well. An advantage is that SGML is implemented, especially in the publishing community and in the scholarly community which has developed the Text Encoding Initiative, and is being adopted more widely as a consequence of the support it received as part of the CALS standards suite. ISO 2709 data can be expressed in SGML and SGML can encapsulate other data and be interchanged in SDIF or within another communication protocol such as X.400. The registry of a new Document Type Definition (DTD) for SGML does not require reopening a standards process. Another benefit of SGML is that software to search data marked in SGML exists so that SGML encoded files can immediately be navigated as hypertexts. A disadvantage is that SGML parsers, while inexpensive, are a specialized application rather than being embedded, as they may soon be, in word processors or DBMS systems.
Museums should use SGML for most object description, especially if it involves use of extended text in fields in which the contents within text should be identified or if it involves text associated with graphics, images, sounds or multimedia, or if the ultimate purposes of the interchange will involve paper of electronic publishing.
Together ISO 8874 (ASN.1) and ISO 8875 (the associated Basic Encoding Rules), is a mechanism for describing any data content in OSI. These are described in more detail in Appendix.
Among its advantages are that ASN.1 is the preferred OSI language for representing other protocols and standards. For example, ISO 8879 SGML, ISO 10161/62 Information Retrieval, and MHEG CD 13522 all use ASN.1 for encoding the formats. Because of its adoption in the OSI world ASN.1 utilities can be found for almost any platform and may be "present" in many systems at some level already.
Its strength lies in the ability to carry any kind of data, in any quantities and to maintain data relationships. A drawback is that implementing ASN.1 interchange, even using available utilities, is a highly complex technical task. ASN.1 parsers and utilities are readily available but involve complex coding and need significant technical expertise to use.
While ASN.1 can be used to encode data that is formatted for interchange according to other standards such as SGML/SDIF, it is also possible to use it directly for both formatting and encoding. The emerging MHEG standard for example strongly suggests this approach. For museums it appears appropriate for archaeometric or scientific data sets, especially if these contain floating point data, quantities of raw data types, or one-off interchanges for which the effort of developing external content agreements would be inappropriate.
The suite of technical standards for search and retrieval which were developed as NISO Z39.50 and have since been adopted as ISO 10162/10163 are considered the most promising way for searching remote systems running diverse software. Originally implemented by the library community for catalog searching, it has recently been endorsed by the Coalition for Networked Information (CNI) as a foundation standard for CNI's information retrieval systems. The proposal for CIMI to adopt ISO 10162/63 was based largely on its acceptance in the information network community (Lynch 1990).
It is important to distinguish between Information Retrieval functions of ISO 10162/63 and the database management functions of Structured Query Language (SQL) and Remote Database Access (RDA) extensions to SQL specified as ISO 9579 RDA. ISO 10162/10163 (Z39.50) especially is preferred for information retrieval services where knowledge, or data in context is wanted. For example, ISO 10162/63 allows searches for concepts like "Author" or "Title" to be conducted independent of the way data is represented internally in the application, or whether it is stored as a flat file or relational table. SQL and RDA extensions are designed for performing database management services such as updating, archiving, or moving databases, for query of relational tables, or for distributed database applications.
It was evident to CIMI that the future of forms-based, obligation creating, business transactions lies with EDI (Electronic Document Interchange) and that museums therefore should use EDI- based approaches to interchange of business transactions data when it is economically viable. Unfortunately, EDI is still represented by two competing, and as yet incompatible, standards: ASC X12 or ISO 9735 (EDIFACT). The use of ASC X12 is largely limited to North America but for museums which are located in North America, the option of adopting a more broadly accepted EDI standard is more illusory than real because the networks which handle EDI traffic define the protocols they will handle. Because bridges do exist to pass X.12 messages to EDIFACT networks and back, the museum community should adopt the EDI standards which will effectively carry messages in their country and develop translations, if necessary, between the representations used in the two protocols until the larger standards community can bring the competing approaches into harmony.
EDI implementations are becoming practical for smaller businesses as the cost of developing and implementing registered transaction sets drops, however it is likely to be the case for a considerable time that EDI messaging between major players in the museum community will have to cohabit with paper based transactions. Eventually it is anticipated that EDI will be available as ubiquitously as electronic mail; ISO is working on a proposal to provide interoperability through OSI which should speed the spread of EDI (Fincher 1990).
The internationally accepted standards for communications, message handling, and Directory Services are X.400 and X.500. These are commonly referred to by their CCITT X. designation but have ISO standard numbers as well. X.400 is a suite of recommendations encompassing ISO 8505, 8883, and 9065; X.500 is ISO 9594.
X.400 one of the first OSI application layer standards to gain almost universal acceptance. Besides its use as the foundation for electronic mail it can carry messages with content defined by other standards, including EDI business transactions, electronic funds transfer, fax transmission, voice communications, and complex office documents containing both text and graphics (Swain and Tallim, 1990). X.500 is rapidly gaining acceptance as the way to specify the electronic address of people and organizations.
File transfer and directory services are successfully standardized in ISO 8571 File Transfer, Access, and Management (FTAM) and CCITT X.550/ISO 9594 OSI Directory standards. FTAM's advantage is that it has been implemented widely in the OSI world and supports extensive file transfer facilities, but its relationship to other file transfer methods in common use such as XMODEM and FTP needs to be explored. Museums should adopt systems which support these standards comprehensively.
Museum business documents ranging from business letters to publications are identical to those produced in other sectors, and standards developed there will work for museum needs too. Content standards governing some specific types of documents, such as catalogues raissonne, may prove valuable for museums if they wish to collectively author them. If content standards are followed, the documents will be made interchangeable if common markup conventions are adopted by the community. Beyond markup, which is taken care of by SGML (Standard Generalized Markup Language) interchange will be accommodated when (and to the extent that) the OSI Office Document Architecture and Office Document Interchange Format (ISO 8613 ODA/ODIF) are implemented. ODA attaches codes to a document so they can be converted to a common format (ODIF) for exchange with another system. Unfortunately, the ODA/ODIF standards have not yet been widely implemented so it is not practical yet to advise museums to use them, but it is clear that the underlying requirements of museums in this area will be adequately satisfied by generally adopted approaches, leaving only the content specification of particular types of documents as a museum-specific standards issue to be dealt with by markup conventions.
Museum requirements for human/machine and machine to machine interaction in real-time are common to those of other application arena's and fully satisfied by lower layer OSI protocols and ISO 9040/9041 Virtual Terminal standard which allows remote, realtime terminal control.
The Standards Framework for Computer Interchange of Museum Information is intended to be: a guideline for museums engaged in systems planning, acquisition and implementation; for software developers and network service providers designing museum applications; and for the profession as a strategy for the preservation of museum data and as insurance in a rapidly changing information environment. Recommendations made in this section apply to each of these three audiences.
The Standards Framework for CIMI specifies what standards should be used in what applications to best assure interchangeability of data among museum applications, migration of data across generations of museum software, and exchange of information among museums and other institutions so it can be used directly by the recipient independent of kind of software, hardware system or network service vendor.
The Standards Framework for Computer Interchange of Museum Information provides a means for museums, museum consortia, and vendors of museum services, to define interchange services and the contents of specific exchanges of data in a way which assures them that the interchanges will work today and in the future, and positions them to take advantages of information industry-wide developments in interoperability.
The foundation of the Standards Framework is the Open Systems Environment (OSE) Reference model (RM) introduced in Figure 6. The OSE RM has been applied most comprehensively in the working draft of the ISO/IEC JTC1 SC18/WG1 Technical Report on Multimedia and Hypermedia: Model and Framework (MHMF), and there provides a context for understanding how the different technologies required for open systems and applications interrelate. (ISO/IEC JTC1/SC18/WG 1 N1444 1992)
Figure 15 shows where the CIMI Standards Framework fits in the OSE context. CIMI addresses the interchange aspects of the OSE model that includes how data is represented, how various data types are identified, and how data content objects are presented.
Implicit in the OSE/MHMF model is the adoption of external standards primarily those originating with ISO, or other international organizations such as IEEE or CCITT. CIMI believes that museums will be well advised to adopt OSE/ISO standards and services whenever possible. This leads to endorsement for museum use of data representation standards for text, image and sound which conform to OSE recommendations, including the adoption of message handling, file handling, and terminal handling services which conform to lower level OSI requirements.
The CIMI Standards Framework, therefore, may be viewed as a suite of communications protocols, interchange formats and data representation schemes to support museum interchange needs. It employs preexisting and standard methods for data representation (ASCII and the ISO 7 and 8 bit sets along with extension mechanisms, MPEG, JPEG, CGM), ISO 10162/10163 for information retrieval, EDI/EDIFACT for business transactions, FTAM for file transfer, X.400/500 for messaging, ISO 9049/41 for terminal access, MHEG for multimedia. Transport services can be provided by OSI or an appropriate alternate such as TCP/IP. Database building, reference file construction, and the interchange of collections management data can be handled by ISO 2709, ISO 8879 SGML, ISO 8824 ASN.1, and ISO 9735 EDIFACT.
Figure 16 arranges in a conceptual fashion all aspects and interrelationships of museum information interchange.
[Insert Figure 15: CIMI in the context of OSE] [Insert Figure 16: CIMI Standards Framework]
The standards framework for CIMI acknowledges that museums applications have special content and that business transactions using EDIFACT, and collections and reference database building using ISO 2709, ASN.1 and/or SGML will require agreements on data content standards still to be developed. Nevertheless it recommends adoption of appropriate carriers for application data and the beginning of data interchange service definitions.
Understanding how standards might be employed to better assure the continuity of museum data over time and its usefulness within and between institutions is the first step in achieving the benefits of interchange. The second step is to develop an implementation strategy.
The Standards Framework for CIMI can be implemented for moving data within a single museum, for moving data between museums, and for moving data between museums and other institutions. Although it will need to be implemented at each of these levels to achieve all the benefits envisioned, some benefits will be realized if it is implemented at only one level.
1: Specify museum applications support CIMI standards
The simplest implementation is for museum institutions, when they are procuring hardware and software, to specify that the standards defined by the framework which are required to support applications in their museums must be supported. Minimally the standards used for import and export of data will be provided, assuring that data will be interchangeable to a different platform, although inter-institutional meanings may not be shared. By asking vendors to provide support for the specific standards, individual institutions which are seeking to acquire systems today will be helping other institutions which don't need to acquire systems until tomorrow. But they will also be making it more likely they will be able to acquire systems satisfying these standards when they need to upgrade or replace systems in the future.
2: Standards for data representation
In making and keeping data within the museum, attention should be paid to standard data representation methods and disciplinary standards for data values. Museum-wide data standards should be adopted across applications even if these do not conform in all respects to external standards. Systems architectures that involve as little redundancy of data storage as is efficient should be installed.
3: Community defined content standards and service definitions
Implementing the standards so that data will have the same meaning, and even be acted upon, when it is interchanged with other museums is more complex. For these meanings to be understood and acted upon, museum institutions will need to collaborate to define common content standards and service definitions used with underlying technical communications protocols. This work is currently being conducted by some CIMI Task Groups and is discussed further below because CIMI is focussing its efforts on being able to provide assistance to groups of museums which are trying to take advantage of concrete benefits derived from data interchange.
4: Common data value standards
Finally, to link museum data with other sources of information that could usefully extend its significance requires adoption of common value standards (authorities and thesauri) for some data within the museum applications and data within the external data repository or used by another institution. For example, linking to geographic databases requires adoption of standard geographic place names and/or geographic reference systems. Linking to bibliographical resources requires use of common name authorities and subject headings. Linking occupations to the wealth of demographic knowledge on the distribution of skills and job classifications, requires adoption of Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) and occupational titles established by national departments of Labor or Census. Standards at this level can be adopted by individual institutions but they will even greater dividends if adopted by communities of common institutions.
Among the promising interchanges with non-museum institutions are those with providers of business services, such as insurance, shipping, and custom brokerage which use EDI, those with repositories of primary texts which are adding value to the content of the texts by marking them in SGML, and those with libraries and archives which create surrogate representations of their holdings consistent with ISO 2709.
As discussed earlier, CIMI encouraged Task Groups representing institutions with interchange interests to collaborate in defining the content of the information required to support particular inter-museum applications and the definition of the services which would be provided by those applications. Since 1990, several Task Groups have been established and their experience has led to formulation of some guidelines and the beginnings of a "CIMI Task Group Resource Kit" containing:
This collection of materials corresponds to but extends the approach advocated by ISO/IEC for encouraging open interchange capability. Because each CIMI Task Group has a different reason for interchanging data, the guidelines suggest a method rather than a concrete outcome. The most difficult task is to agree on the data that will be required, or permitted, to be sent in the application.
The experience with CIMI Task Groups has shown that it is effective for each participant in the Task Group to come to the table with a list of data elements. The group must then establish that it is talking about the same things or discover where there is overlap between the institutions in the data they expect to send and receive. To assist Task Groups in defining the data they need, CIMI has followed the ISO Guidelines for structuring Data Element Dictionaries and developed its own set of standards for Data Element Naming Conventions. By following the data element naming conventions, Task Groups can reach agreement on data which must be carried by the interchange format which is an implementation of the appropriate interchange standard specified in the Standards Framework for CIMI.
Once the Task Group determines what data it wishes to interchange, it can address the question of how the interchange application is intended to work. Who initiates the action? What do they send? How does the receiving system respond? What actions do each party take and what follow-up actions are required? By answering these types of procedural questions surrounding the interchange service, the Task Groups generate the information needed to specify an Interchange Service Definition.
CIMI has three active Task Groups at different stages in this process. The Cultural History Information Task Group has completed a definition of the data content and service requirements for the construction of a shared database of information relating to institutions and their major collections. They await the technical mapping of their data and services to a proposed interchange standards and its testing. The Registrars Task Group has begun data and service requirements definition within the framework of EDI for interchange of information regarding all aspects of arranging for and lending materials for exhibition. Ultimately such EDI transaction sets might including messages to be interchanged between insurers, custom brokers, shippers and other museums. The Art History Information Task Group is working on data content requirements for scholarly interchange of art historical information and has not yet begun to examine service requirements.
The ongoing CIMI Initiative encourages other groups within the museum profession to organize efforts to define data content standards and interchange service requirements for applications that will contribute to their work. CIMI will support such efforts with technical guidance.
With the publication of the Standards Framework for Computer Interchange of Museum Information the first phase of the CIMI Initiative and the work of the Committee for CIMI has come to a conclusion.
The CIMI Management Committee appointed by MCN in November 1992 has recommended that a Consortium for CIMI be formed to promote further research and development and the network implementation of the Standards Framework for CIMI. In April 1993, the Museum Computer Network Board accepted this proposal. A prospectus, inviting participation in the development of actual interchange protocol specification supporting specific applications of interchange envisioned by groups of institutions and individuals in the museum community, is currently being circulated to governmental, nonprofit and for- profit organizations with interest in museum information interchange.
If funding can be secured through a membership based Consortium for CIMI, a research and development agenda will be pursued over the coming years to promote the implementation of standards in museum software and network services. While the specific agenda for the Consortium will be set by its members, some features of it can be assumed from needs identified in the past.
CIMI needs to continue to promote the idea of standards, and especially of a standards framework built on existing internationally accepted information systems standards and architectures, as a method for achieving museum data interchange objectives.
CIMI needs to encourage groups within the museum community with data interchange needs to define the data content and service requirements of their applications and to provide the necessary technical support for such efforts. The tasks might include developing guidelines for writing descriptions of Interchange Application Services based on ISO/IEC JTC1 SC21 Document N4903 (Methodology and Guidelines for the Development of Application Layer Standards)and could require guidelines for Task Groups on establishing a methodology, preparing a definition of the required services, and formal descriptive techniques (FDT).
Finally, CIMI needs to specify interchange services based on international standards. It needs to implement these in test applications on a variety of networks and test their usefulness to museums. And it needs to publish specifications for import and export of data to take advantage of network services so that museum application vendors and in-house systems staff in museums can take advantage of interchange functionality.
ANSI/ASC X12: see Electronic Document Interchange (EDI)
ANSI/NISO: see NISO
ASN.1: Abstract Syntax Notation One (ASN.1 ISO 8824 and 8825) ASN.1 is a flexible, technical language for specifying data structures. Together with its companion Basic Encoding Rules (ISO 8825) it provides a means of specifying, encoding & decoding messages (Protocol Data Units or PDUs) to be transmitted. ASN.1 prescribes how information units can be taken from the local system's encoding scheme (called an Abstract Syntax), transformed to a mutually agreed upon (by the systems in question) encoding scheme (called the Transfer Syntax) for transmission to the destination system. There it is retransformed into that local Abstract Syntax.
The semantics built into ASN.1 are very general - Boolean, string, number, plus some OSI concepts. Mappings are defined by the user. There are no constraints on structuring. The encoding of an object described by ASN.1/BER (ISO 8824-8825) uses a Tag-Length-Value syntax. Tags are encoded as hex strings that get mapped to program data elements & structures by an ASN.1- generated parser. Lengths are integers. Values may be encoded as built-in types (e.g., integer, Boolean, string) or as user-defined types.
CIMI: An acronym and logotype for all the efforts on behalf of the Computer Interchange of Museum Information undertaken by the Museum Computer Network to support the development and implementation of standards for automated recording and retrieval of museum information.
CIMI Committee: the group funded by NEH June 1990- June 1992 that was constituted, produced work, and was dissolved, consisting of the following members: Joan Bacharach, US National Parks Service; David Bearman, Archives and Museum Informatics, Project Director; Lynn Cox, Museum Computer Network; Gail Eagen, Canadian Heritage Information Network; Julian Humphries, Association for Systematic Collections; Ron Kley, Association for Living Historical Farms and Agricultural Museums; Sarah Lawrence, Argus User Group; Kathleen McDonnell, Conservation Information Network; Patricia Gordon Michael, American Association for State and Local History; John Perkins, Project Manager; Andrew Roberts, International Council of Museums Documentation Committee, Museum Documentation Association; Margaretta Sander, Art Information Task Force; Lenore Sarasan, Willoughby Associates; Greg Tschann, American Association of Museums; Alan Tucker, Research Libraries Group Inc.
CIMI Content Data Standards: content specifications (eg meaning of data elements, content standards used, standards referenced,
CIMI Interchange Protocols: is a suite of communications protocols, and data representation schemes to support museum interchange needs. It employs preexisting and standard methods including ISO 10162/10163 for information retrieval, EDI for business transactions, FTAM for file transfer, X.400/500 for messaging, ISO 9040/41 for terminal access. Transport services can be provided by OSI or an appropriate alternate such as TCP/IP. Database building, reference file construction, and the interchange of collections management data can be handled by ISO 2709, ISO 8879 SGML, ISO 8824 ASN.1, and ISO 9735 EDIFACT.
CIMI Management Committee: a committee appointed by the MCN board in November 1992 to advise, manage, and direct the ongoing Museum Computer Network efforts in the interchange of museum information.(members?).
CIMI Standards Framework: the interchange protocols, interchange formats, and other standards such as lower level network and telecommunications building blocks and content data standards that provide the technical basis for museum information interchange.
CIMI Task Group: purpose-directed subsets of the museum profession that work directly with CIMI to develop museum information interchange in a system- independent way.
Consensus: implies agreement reached by more than a simple majority but less than unanimity.
CNI: Coalition For Networked Information
EBCDIC: a proprietary IBM data encoding scheme for text characters.
Electronic Data Interchange (EDI): EDI is the exchange of routine business transactions in machine readable format. It covers many areas including, ordering, pricing, quoting, backordering, shipping, receiving, planning purchases as well as invoicing and payments. There are two competing standards: EDIFACT and ASC X12. ASC X12 and EDIFACT consider their format differences to be minor and are pursuing reconciliation.
The X12 series consists of a number of application standards called transaction set standards that are dependent on a set of foundation standards defining the data elements, segments, control structures and transmission envelope. The structure that holds the data being interchanged is called the interchange envelope itself specified as ANSI X12.5 standard. It provides the envelope of control segments that allow exchanging systems to acknowledge sending and receipt between systems. The interchange envelope is carried by communications sessions protocols that conform to the lower 5 layers of the ISO reference model ISO 7498-1984.
EDIFACT: The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe EDI for Administration, Commerce, and Transport. The standard is specified as ISO 9735 Electronic Data Interchange for Administration, Commerce, and Transport 1988 - Application Level Syntaxes Rules. This standard is in competition with ASC X.12 but there is an international push to harmonize the two approaches.
FTAM: ISO 8571 File Transfer, Access, and Management (FTAM) provides a full service environment for the transfer of whole or partial files, different file types (flat or hierarchical structured), and file manipulations such as file access (eg locate, erase,) and file management (eg create, delete, read, write). Two systems do not need to share the same internal file structure but communicate through a neutral structure, the virtual file. FTAM allows document types to be defined - default ones are unstructured text, unstructured binary, sequential text. Data representation is not an issue since communications services such as X.400 handle data transparently.
Hypermedia/Time-based Document Structuring Language: see HyTime
HyTime: Hypermedia/Time-based Document Structuring Language ISO 10744: Based on SGML, HyTime extends the concept of markup of single documents to those of multiple data objects or documents with multiple parts. Hypertext documents and multi-media presentations are two examples. Using HyTime to describe the structure of the documents and their relationship to each other (and other documents) allows for interchange, non sequential browsing, version control, retrieval access, and cooperative authoring over time and distance.
IEC/ISO/JTC1: see Joint Technical Committee 1
Interchange Service: a detailed specification of the structure and meaning of the information being interchanged and the purposes of the interchange. If this includes agreement on the consecutive processes of an interchange transaction, particularly in the formal OSI usage, it is called a Service Definition. Interchange Service is used in the CIMI context to distinguish it from the formal OSI concept of Service Definition.
Interchange format: a formal, ordered expression of the nature and structure of data elements, relationships between data elements, and metadata information needed as part of an Interchange Service. An interchange format may be used by one or more Interchange Services. More than one interchange format may be used in a single Interchange Service.
Information Retrieval Service: ISO 10162/63 or NISO Z39.50, Information Retrieval Service Definitions and Protocol Specifications for Library Applications allows an application on one computer to query a database on another. The protocol specifies the inter-system procedures and structures for submission of a search request in the native query syntax of the originating system to be responded to by the receiving system and have hits passed back to the originating system for display in its native format. To date, service definitions have been written for catalog and authority databases and definitions for others are in development.
ISO TC46: ISO TC46 is the international forum for information and documentation standards. The work covers an enormous range including the description of documents, transliteration of non- Roman alphabets, and computer applications including interchange formats. TC46 has the participation of national standards and implementation agencies in its work and all of these contribute to its domain.
ISO TC46/SC4 is concerned with Computer Applications including the standard ISO 2709 Documentation - Format for information interchange on magnetic tape.
ISO TC46/SC4/WG4 is primarily concerned with format structures for bibliographic and information interchange using ISO 2709. NISO serves as the secretariat for TC46/SC4/WG4; the convener is Sally McCallum, Director of the MARC Standards Office of the Library of Congress.
ISO 2709: ISO 2709-1981 and its US equivalent ANSI Z39.2-1985 are representative of bibliographic and information (textual, descriptive data) interchange formats. ISO 2709 is specifically intended for communications between data processing systems, not a processing format within systems.
An ISO 2709 conformant record is a linear series of characters organized in a highly structured way reflecting the primary use of allowing information to be encoded sequentially on magnetic tape. A record contains both the data for transmission and information about the data, its structure and organization for the data processing system to use. Each record begins with a fixed length record label that allows for a description of how long the record is, the status (ie new, amended etc.), the location of the beginning of the data to be transmitted, and information about the record directory section that follows next. The variable length record directory consists of fixed length units which identify each field (element of information) by a three character identifier or tag (practice dictates a three character identifier but the original standard allowed implementations to specify the identifier length) and shows where each data field begins and how long it is. The directory is variable length since there can be any different number of fields in a record. Following the directory are the data fields. There will be a data field corresponding to each field named in the directory for a given record. Each record is terminated by a record separator followed by another record if necessary.
Joint Technical Committee 1: of ISO and IEC (JTC1), was formed to address areas of overlapping interest between IEC and ISO. It is responsible for CD- ROM (SC23), OSI (SC16), Office Document Interchange Formats and Standard Generalized Markup Language, SGML (SC18), telecommunications and ISDN or Integrated Services Digital Network (SC6), as well as multimedia and hypermedia (SC29).
JTC1/SC18 (Text and Office Systems) has developed the standard ISO 8879 for Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML). SGML allows the definition of the logical structure of printed documents independent of their published appearance and is widely used by the publishing industry for document formatting and interchange. Those interested in exchanging hypertext have also been examining SGML for its potential usefulness.
Standards for the coded representation of still and moving images are being developed by JTC1/SC29. JTC1/SC29/WG10 , commonly known as JPEG, is concerned with the digital coding of still images. This working group has proposed a draft standard for the coding of images in a compressed form along with the necessary instructions for decompression that is gaining wide acceptance. The draft JPEG standard solves both problems of coding and creating manageable file sizes without information loss which in turn makes it possible for images to be handled and interchanged in similar ways to textual information in digital form.
SC29/WG11 is dealing with moving picture encoding (MPEG) and WG12 with multi and hypermedia issues.
Mapping: The process of relating or converting data (elements) and their relationships in one format or conceptual schema to another.
MARC: MARC is the most significant implementation of the ISO 2709/NISO Z39.2 standard. The name MARC, an acronym for machine- readable cataloguing, originally described a single format developed by the US Library of Congress beginning in the mid-1960's. There are now numerous bibliographic and non- bibliographic MARC formats used in over 20 countries. National content standards differ somewhat so the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) has implemented UNIMARC as bridge between them. The four USMARC communications formats now function as a standard for the representation and exchange of bibliographic, authority, holdings and "community" data in machine-readable form in the U.S.. The scope of the bibliographic component includes books, archival material, computer files, maps, music, visual materials (including three- dimensional objects), and serials. Because of strong links between libraries, archives, collections of visual materials (all use USMARC) and because it can be used for a basic description of three-dimensional objects, some have proposed the museum community adopt a "MARC for museums" format.(fn AU report and Deirdre's study).
Metadata: Information about data. In interchange it is the additional information about the content that is necessary for a receiving system to understand and intelligently deal with the exchange.
NISO: NISO is the ANSI accredited developer of standards for libraries, information organizations, A&I services, publishers and library equipment manufacturers. NISO publishes the Z series of ANSI standards including the Z39.2 Bibliographic Information Interchange and Z39.50 Information Retrieval Service Definition and Protocol Specifications for Library Applications. Z39.2 was developed after and from the MARC format and is an example of a professional standard being adopted as a national one. Now MARC is described as an implementation of Z39.2 and is considered only one in a suite of standards necessary for bibliographic information interchange.
Openness: a concept that encompasses representation from the broadest spectrum possible of the particular community represented, adequate record keeping and publication of minutes, no financial barriers to participation, or restrictions on participation based on membership in an organization or technical qualifications.
OSE: Open Systems Environment is a conceptual model developed by IEEE and NIST to extend the concept of OSI from connecting computers to allow them to interwork, to allowing application portability between platforms. It incorporates issues of user interface, data management, data interchange, communications, and operating systems.
OSI: Open Systems Interconnection. An ISO set of standards specified in the base standard ISO 7498 1-4 which is the basic description of the seven layered model for effecting open communications between two computer systems. Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML) ISO 8879-1986
Registration authorities: coordinate efforts and ensure unambiguous specification of interchange services and formats. (ref Annex C JTC1 SC21 N4903:1990 p 45).
SGML: began (and is still primarily used) in the publishing industry to describe how text should be formatted, printed, processed or laid out in a system independent way. ISO 8879 defines two parts, a Prologue and a Document Instance. The prologue contains the SGML declaration and a document type declaration (DTD); the document instance is the content. The SGML Declaration specifies facts about the characters set, the delimiter codes, and the length of identifiers. The DTD contains the description of elements the description of attributes and entities which are named parts of a document. As is the case for other international standards, SGML provides a generalized structure that is given meaning by implementation standards.
Task Group: purpose-directed subsets of the profession that work directly with CIMI staff and the CIMI committee to develop museum information interchange in a system-independent way (ref Report of CIMI Meeting 1, Sec 3.2 p 5).
UN/EDIFACT: see EDI
UNISIST Reference Manual: The UNISIST Reference Manual is an implementation of ISO 2709 conceived by its creators as a system for the communication of abstracting and indexing (A&I) material. The Conservation Information Network's bibliographic database (which is closer to an A&I service than a library service) conforms to the UNISIST Reference Manual content standard.
Z39.2: see ISO 2709
American Archivist, Vol 52 No 4, Fall 1989, and Vol 53 No 1 1990. The two issues is devoted to Archival Standards issues and has useful articles, a glossary, checklist of standards, and a bibliography.
Bearman, David (1987) Towards National Information Systems for Archives and Manuscript Repositories: The NISTF Papers, 1980-1984. Chicago, Society of American Archivists, 119pp.
Bearman, David (1989) Archives and Manuscript Control with Bibliographic Utilities. American Archivist, 52, 26-39
Bearman, David , Archives & Museum Data Models & Dictionaries, Archives and Museum Informatics Technical Report #10, Pittsburgh, 1990.
Bearman, David (1991a) Museum Information Standards: Progress and Prospects. In S.M.Spivak & K.A.Winsell (Eds.), A Sourcebook of Standards Information (253-264). Boston, G.K.Hall
Bearman, David (1991b) Computer Interchange of Museum Information. Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science, 18#2, 14-16
Bearman, David (1992a) Information Exchange Requirements of Archives and Museums. D.A.Roberts (Ed.)
Bearman, David (1992b) CALS '91 and CIMI Efforts. Paper distributed to CIMI Committee January 8, 1992. 16pp.
Cargill, Carl F., Information Technology Standardization: Theory, Process and Organizations, Digital Press, Bedford Mass., 1989
Crawford, Walt, Technical Standards: An Introduction for Librarians, (White Plains, NY, Knowledge Industry Publications, 1986)
Crawford, Walt, MARC for Library Use: Understanding the USMARC Formats (White Plains, NY: Knowledge Industry Publications Inc., 1984).
Denenberg, Ray, ed., Library Hi Tech Consecutive Issue 32 Vol 8:4 November 1990.
Fincher, Judith A. The ISO edi conceptual model activity and its relationship to OSI. Library Hi Tech 32:4 1990 pp 83-91
Homulos, Peter and Chuck Sutyla, Information Management in Canadian Museums, Communications Canada, Ottawa 1988.
John Henshall and Sandy Shaw, OSI Explained, Ellis Horwood, London, 1988.
Ledrick, Diane P. and Michael B. Spring, "International Standardized Profiles", Computer Standards & Interfaces, 11 (1990) p.95-103
Lynch, Clifford A. Information Retrieval as a Network Application, Library Hi Tech 32:4 1990 pp64-72.
Moline, Judi (1991) Using Standards to Facilitate Access and Reuse of Museum Information. In D.Bearman (ed.) Hypermedia and Interactivity in Museums (307-315). Pittsburgh, Archives & Museum Informatics
Oren, Tim, Towards Open Hypertext: Requirements for Distributed hypermedia Standards. In Proceedings of the Hypertext Standardization Workshop January 16-18, 1990. Judi Moline, Dan Benigni, Jean Baronas eds. NIST Publication 500-178
Perkins, John, Report of the First CIMI Meeting, unpublished report, October, 1990. Report of the Second CIMI Meeting, unpublished report, June, 1991.
Perkins, John (1991) CIMI News, #1 January 1991; #2 August 1991; #3 January 1992. Halifax NS, Committee on Computer Interchange of Museum Information
Perkins, John (1992) The CIMI Standards Framework: A Briefing Paper on Options for Computer Interchange of Museum Information, unpublished briefing paper 1992.
Roberts, D.A ed Collections Management for Museums, MDA, Cambridge 1988.
Sperberg-McQueen, C.M. and Lou Burnard eds., Guidelines for the Encoding and Interchange of Machine-Readable Texts, Draft Version1.1 Chicago and Oxford, November 1990.
Swain, Leigh and Tallim, Paula. X.400: The Standard for Message Handling Systems, Library Hi Tech 32:4 1990 pp 43-55.
_____, ISO Technical Report (ISO/IEC JTC1 SC21 Document N4903: Methodology and Guidelines for the Development of Application Layer Standards.
______, An Introduction to Electronic Data Interchange. Data Interchange Standards Association, Inc. Alexandria Va, May 1990.
______, Information Manual. Data Interchange Standards Association, Inc. Alexandria Va, Spring 1991.
_______, O/IEC JTC1 SC18 WG 1 N 1444 Working Draft of the Technical Report on Multimedia and Hypermedia: Model and Framework, October 1992
1. Unfamiliar terms or acronyms are defined in the Glossary, in Appendix A.
2. The Internet transmission control protocols, TCP/IP, are a valid substitute for OSI. This is discussed in more detail in Chapter IV.
3. For a detailed and evolving discussion of a complex model for interchange refer to the work of ISO/IEC JTC1 SC18 WG1. They are currently drafting a document"Working Draft of the Technical Report on Multimedia and Hypermedia: Model and Framework."
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