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DCMI's new mission and approach for next years: refocusing to better meet community needs

Over the last ten years, the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (DCMI) has gradually developed from a loosely organized group of interested and committed volunteers to the more formal organization of today, centred around a well-used Web site and a series of annual conferences held around the world, and involving an active community of implementers in many professional domains in more than 50 countries.

The first five years of work on the Dublin Core culminated in the finalization of the Reference Description of the Dublin Core Metadata Element Set, Version 1.1 in July 1999. The second five years saw the formal establishment of the basic Dublin Core Metadata Element Set as ISO standard 15836 and several national standards, as well as careful expansion of the set of DCMI terms (properties, vocabulary encoding schemes, syntax encoding schemes, concepts from controlled vocabularies) and the publication of implementation guidelines. Finally, in 2005, the Dublin Core Abstract Model was published, providing a syntax-independent reference model for the implementation of Dublin Core metadata.

Originally, the main focus of attention of DCMI was the development of standards based on the initial vision of providing a basic approach to discovery of Web resources. In recent years, the attention has turned towards meeting the practical needs of organizations developing and deploying metadata solutions to provide services and products to their clients and customers.

Acknowledging the changing needs of the community, while at the same time recognizing the value of the open and independent characteristics of the organization, the DCMI Directorate and the DCMI Board of Trustees have developed a vision for the future of the organization.

As part of that vision, the following mission statement will form the basis for the work in the coming years:

The Dublin Core Metadata Initiative provides simple standards to facilitate the finding, sharing and management of information.

DCMI does this by:

  • Developing and maintaining international standards for describing resources
  • Supporting a worldwide community of users and developers
  • Promoting widespread use of Dublin Core solutions

The new mission statement reflects a change from functional scoping (resource discovery) to a broader, solution-scoped approach (resource description). This change offers DCMI stakeholders a coherent framework to support solutions that include, but extend beyond, resource discovery.

In terms of practical activities, we also foresee a change of focus. Until now, DCMI has gradually grown the basic Dublin Core Metadata Element Set and additional terms. Individual terms have been proposed by Working Groups and evaluated by the DCMI Usage Board. In the future, DCMI aims to more specifically provide services to developers of metadata systems by offering review of Application Profiles, specifications of how a certain application uses Dublin Core metadata, against the principles laid down in the Dublin Core Abstract Model.

The DCMI Usage Board will develop the necessary procedures and test these against a small number of Application Profiles already under development. The procedures are intended to be light-weight and will be based on clear and objective criteria derived from the Abstract Model. DCMI will consider providing tools (e.g. guided interfaces) that allow for self-evaluation of Profiles.

In the new approach, DCMI will no longer accept proposals for individual terms. DCMI will not create and maintain new terms except in cases where agreements can be concluded with organizations that commit to support the maintenance of these terms. Only in such cases, terms that are not defined elsewhere will be declared in DCMI Namespaces. Properties will be hosted in the dcterms namespace, while for controlled vocabularies a new extension namespace will be defined.

The current planning envisages that a first version of the new procedures will be available for review by the DCMI Board of Trustees and Advisory Board in the second half of 2006, after which the further planning for implementation of the new approach will be determined.

We are confident that the new approach will enable DCMI to continue to meet the expectations of the community in the years to come, at the same time contributing to increasing use of Dublin Core metadata within and across domains, applications and countries.

Makx Dekkers
DCMI Managing Director

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