Introducing the Enosema Foundation

Author’s picture Reese Plews Author’s picture Joanna Goodwin Author’s picture Ronald Tse on 18 Mar 2022

We are happy to announce the establishment of the Enosema Foundation. Enosema is now fully registered as a US 501(c)3 tax-exempt, non-profit organization, and is open for technical standardization work.

Challenges to concept management

Need to manage terminology concepts

Managing standardized terminology concepts is much more than managing a dictionary.

The goal of managing these concepts is to enable “semantic interoperability”. By semantic interoperability, we mean the ability to communicate and interpret an identical meaning across different domains or information systems.

This is not entirely straightforward:

  • Different industries use different terms for the same concept because they have different viewpoints, for example, the construction industry looks at buildings built with individual components from the ground up, but the geospatial industry looks at buildings composed of different shapes from the top down.

  • Different languages have different concepts, for example, in some cultures a screw is named using the same term as a nail. This is a mismatch in the concept hierarchy (the way of organizing concepts), and therefore a word-for-word translation across languages do not always work.

  • In a dictionary, terms provide definitions, and definitions contain uses of existing terms. This means that the terms/concepts are by nature linked and related to each other, which is the basis of a concept hierarchy. A definition of a term can often be expressed in multiple ways even though the intent is identical — a concept can be expressed using different concepts, there is not always a single correct or better one.

Layers of management

There are a few layers in concept management:

  1. Managing a dictionary. How to ensure that new concepts that enter the dictionary are arranged in the right place, in relation to other concepts already present.

  2. Managing a multi-lingual dictionary. How to ensure that users of the dictionary can use the concepts in different languages if the concept hierarchy does not match.

  3. Managing the relationships between concepts that come from dictionaries of different industries. Some concepts are identical but use different terms. Sometimes the same term is used in different industries for different concepts. Some concepts in one industry do not have a corresponding term in another industry, and there needs to be a determination on whether that concept should be imported, or another term be created for that industry, or is there a substitution concept to be used in that industry.

Version management

Version management of the concepts presents an additional challenge. In order to allow for interoperability of systems, every version of a concept within a dictionary, and the version of relationships between concept relations across dictionaries, all need to be managed.

Enosema as a standardization organization

Shared concepts workshop

In 2021, the ISO/TC 211 Terminology Management Group together with several ISO/TC 211 members, organized a series of two "shared concepts workshops" (official page, blog post). The intent was to discuss about use cases and challenges faced in cross-organization and cross-domain terminology harmonization.

Over 80 experts participated the workshops, with attendees coming from multiple standardization fields, with practical and academic interest in concept management, semantic web technologies, dictionary compilation and thesauri experts.

One of the conclusions of the series was that many of us involved with terminology and concepts management felt that there must be a "better way" in doing things.

Establishment of Enosema

In order to address these challenges, we felt that there were no existing organizational structures (within ISO or IEC) that had a broad enough mandate to tackle them.

A few of us got together and started thinking — what if there was a place that provides standards and best practices for managing concepts, their usage and concept relationships?

With a background in managing some of the most used standardized terminology datasets, including the IEC Electropedia (IEV), the ISO/TC 211 Terminology Repository and the Multi-Lingual Glossary of Terms (MLGT), we believe that there are best practices to be elaborated that will benefit terminology practitioners and information system implementers alike.

Standardization and structure

Enosema is an international standardization organization that creates international standards and contributes to the domains of terminology, ontology and semantics.

Technical work at Enosema is performed by working groups in the Technical Committee, covering aspects such as:

  • Concept management within a dictionary;

  • Concept mappings across dictionary;

  • Version management best practices of concepts and mappings.

International cooperation

The mission of Enosema is international in nature, given that its founding team is spread across the globe.

Enosema consists of international experts and works with international partners.

Join us at Enosema!

Enosema welcomes organizations and individuals alike as members to proceed towards our goals.

Please check our membership page for more information!