A3. Resource Description

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Tue, 2012-09-18
Tue, 2012-09-25 09:00
Submission Instructions
Submit a total of three files (zipped). Name your zipped file FirstNameLastNameA3.zip 

The first file will be FirstNameLastNameA3Report. Your file should have the following sections:
  1. Scoping the vocabulary
  2. Defining the terms/descriptors
  3. Reflecting on the vocabulary modeling experience
The second file will be an instance that contains a sample dining "event" encoded using your vocabulary. Name this file FirstNameLastNameA3Instance.

The third file will be a document that contains a sample dining "event" encoded using your classmate's vocabulary. Name this file FirstNameLastNameA3Swapped.

Your task is to develop a vocabulary for describing the experience of dining in a restaurant. As you've learned from the first chapters of The Discipline of Organizing and from recent readings on document engineering, resource description involves scoping the problem, making decisions about key trade-offs, choosing meaningful names and descriptions, and being aware of any biases you might be bringing to the vocabulary. This assignment will take you through that process.

You should refer to your lecture notes for the 9/13 lecture and Chapter 4.3 from The Discipline of Organizing to help you execute this assignment.

Part 1: Scoping the Vocabulary
There are many different types of restaurants and many different types of dining experiences. The first thing you must do is scope the food experience you intend to model. Are you looking at five-star restaurants or fast food? Or do you want to try to model a universal dining experience?  

In your Report document, under the section title "Scoping the Vocabulary," write one or two sentences that define the scope of the vocabulary you intend to design. 

Dining experiences range from drive-thru to multiple course meals and there differences should be reflected in your vocabulary.  Be specific about what you intend to describe.  Be sure to carefully consider not only what falls within your scope but also what is outside of it. 

Part 2: Defining the Terms/Descriptors
Identify and define the terms and descriptors your vocabulary requires to describe events within your scope.  
For each term or descriptor, write a one or two sentence definition. These definitions are your instructions for people using your vocabulary to encode an instance -- as your classmate will do later in this assignment. 

Write these terms and descriptors in the "defining the terms/descriptors" section of your Report document. To make these definitions easy for us to find and read, write each as a separate paragraph in section 2 of your report.

Remember the tradeoffs we've discussed so far in the semester. They'll help you think through some key issues, such as:
  • How many "levels" of terms do you want or need? Everything can be at the same hierarchical level, or you may have some terms that are "containers" for others. There's no right answer; just think about the implications.
  • How many terms do you need to cover everything in your scope?
  • What are the benefits/drawbacks of a simpler vocabulary? A more complex one?
  • Are you being consistent with the levels of abstraction and granularity of your terms?
For instance, if you had a Date descriptor, would it include weekday? What about the format for the date itself? MM-DD-YYYY is a possibility, but do you need to be more or less descriptive?

We've found that a useful vocabulary can be developed with somewhere between 10 and 20 terms.

Part 3: Encoding an Instance
You might have developed your vocabulary by thinking of a specific restaurant experience or set of experiences. This step will make that connection explicit, testing your vocabulary by having you create an instance of a particular restaurant event.  
Encode an instance using your terms in the file FirstNameLastNameA3Instance. Make sure the instance falls within the scope you defined in step 1. 

It's recommended that you format this in a numbered list. For example, if trying to describe the lectures of 202 you might have a Lecture Descriptor with Reading, Date, and Instructor sub-descriptors.  It might look something like this:

1. Lecture: Resource Description and Metadata
  • a. Reading:  TDO Chapter 4
  • b. Date:  September 18, 2012
  • c. Instructor:  Glushko
2. Lecture:  Resource Description and Metadata (2)

As you do this step, you may find you want to change some of your terms, make things less (or more) granular, remove (or add) levels of hierarchy, or alter your vocabulary in other ways. That's OK! You should revisit steps 1-3 and revise your scope, terms, definitions, and instance as needed. Make some notes on any changes you make -- you'll want them for your reflection later.

Part 4: Swapping Vocabularies
Now comes the fun part: swapping vocabularies with a classmate in your section. (See the attached document for your partner assignment).

For this part of the assignment, you'll be sharing parts 1 and 2 of this assignment. DO NOT share your instance, just the scope statement and the definition of terms. Once you have your classmate's vocabulary, attempt to encode an instance of their vocabulary using only the scope and definitions they provide. Call your instance FirstNameLastNameA3Swapped. Make sure your instance is well-formed. Send this file back to your classmate.

Part 5: Reflecting on the Vocabulary Modeling Experience
Write a few paragraphs reflecting on your vocabulary modeling experience in your  Report document under the section "Reflecting on the vocabulary modeling experience." This should not be longer than a few hundred words but include, at a minimum, the following elements:
  1. Your thoughts on the challenges of modeling your own vocabulary, what it was like to scope and create your terms, and what changes -- if any -- you needed to make after you tried to encode your own instance.
  2. What it was like to try to make an instance of your classmate's vocabulary. Did any terms confuse you? Was anything particularly clear? What did looking at someone else's terms and definitions teach you about modeling a vocabulary?
  3. (What was it like to see the instance your classmate encoded of your vocabulary? Did it match the expectations you had for your vocabulary? And what does that tell you about the success of your scope, terms, and definitions?   
Note: The "No Busy Work" Principle
Assignments are meant to challenge you intellectually in some way, not to see how much "busy work" you can put up with. So we'll never intentionally ask you to do something that takes time but that doesn't give you more insights. In this assignment there are ample opportunities to do "busy work," so be careful not to do it.