Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Freebase Books Schema

Freebase is an interesting project, they accept data sets and then provide a platform to access them. Something like the Talis platform? They have a section for books and have a schema for book information. I'm not sure of the mechanics behind it all. I'd guess RDF would make the cross data set links easier. Here is an example of bibliographic data being just one type of data in a much larger system with connecitons to other data sets. Interesting.
Freebase is an open database of the world’s information. It is built by the community and for the community--free for anyone to query, contribute to, built applications on top of, or integrate into their websites.

Already, Freebase covers millions of topics in hundreds of categories. Drawing from large open data sets like Wikipedia, MusicBrainz, and the SEC, it contains structured information on many popular topics, like movies, music, people and locations--all reconciled and freely available via an open API. This information is supplemented by the efforts of a passionate global community of users, who are working together to add structured information on everything from philosophy to European railway stations to the chemical properties of common food ingredients.

In fact, part of what makes Freebase unique is that it spans domains--but requires that a particular topic exist only once in Freebase, even if it might normally be found in multiple databases. For example, Arnold Schwarzenegger would appear in a movie database as an actor, a political database as a governor and a bodybuilder database as a Mr. Universe. In Freebase, there is only one topic for Arnold Schwarzenegger, with all three facets of his public persona brought together. The unified topic acts as an information hub, making it easy to find and contribute information about him.

For books they have a work-like idea, a bit FRBR-like.
"Book" represents the abstract notion of a particular book, rather than a particular edition. It is on this level that articles or discussion about a book should generally occur (e.g., the article about Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" is on the book topic, rather than on one or more of the hundreds of editions it has gone through). The book topic should also be used for connections to other types, such as films that have been adapted from a book.

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