8.2. Structuring Descriptions

Choosing how to structure resource descriptions is a matter of making principled and purposeful design decisions in order to solve specific problems, serve specific purposes, or bring about some desirable property in the descriptions. Most of these decisions are specific to a domain: the particular context of application for the organizing system being designed and the kinds of interactions with resources it will enable. Making these kinds of context-specific decisions results in a model of that domain. (See §4.3.1.2, “Abstraction in Resource Description”.)

Over time, many people have built similar kinds of descriptions. They have had similar purposes, desired similar properties, and faced similar problems. Unsurprisingly, they have converged on some of the same decisions. When common sets of design decisions can be identified that are not specific to any one domain, they often become systematized in textbooks and in design practices, and may eventually be designed into standard formats and architectures for creating organizing systems. These formally recognized sets of design decisions are known as abstract models or metamodels. Metamodels describe structures commonly found in resource descriptions and other information resources, regardless of the specific domain. While any designer of an organizing system will usually create a model of her specific domain, she usually will not create an entirely new metamodel but will instead make choices from among ...

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