Conferences always reinvigorate my enthusiasm for the digital library field. Recently, I attended the SPARC Digital Repositories meeting where I met a visiting scholar from Spain who is currently doing research at UNC-SILS, my alma mater.I was fascinated by her research in SKOS, a semantic technology. Semantic technologies are particularly appealing to us repository folks because it offers the possibility of unifying several different controlled vocabularies across disciplines. The E-Culture MultimedianN project, a collaborative prototype utilizing digital heritage collections from the Netherlands, demonstrates how semantic systems and fuzzy search logic can unify distinct collections using the Art and Architecture Thesaurus, Union List of Artist Names and the Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names and their synonyms.
Try conducting a search on Van Gogh. You not only will see the works of Vincent Van Gogh, but the faceted results will also return works by identified family members, related artists and related painting styles/ time periods, which can be overlayed on a google map.
While the project is still in development, it certainly provides some exciting possibilities.