Events…

About a year ago I worked on a public data model for representing news stories as linked data. The model is simple  and can be summed up by example in the following RDF statements:

<Storyline1>  :hasSlot  <StorylineSlotA>
<Storyline1>  :hasSlot  <StorylineSlotB>
 
<StorylineSlotA>  :contains   <Event1>
<StorylineSlotB>  :contains   <Event2>
 
<StorylineSlotB>  :follows  <StorylineSlotA> 

<Asset1>  :about  <Event1>
<Asset2>  :about  <Event1>
<Asset3>  :about  <Event1>
 
<Asset4>  :about  <Event2>
<Asset5>  :about  <Event2>
<Asset6>  :about  <Event2>

In order to implement that in BBC News I took a strategic decision to allow Storyline instances to be the object (rdfs:domain) of our :about predicates, effectively simplifying the model to enable a journalist to say:

<Asset7>  :about  <Storyline1>

We ran a pilot with a local newsroom in winter 2103/14 and this approach worked fine, content could be aggregated into collections (typically chronological streams of updates) with each asset being annotated as being about that Storyline. This can be used to drive a user experience similar to http://www.itv.com/news.

In December 2013 I was fortunate to have Paul Rissen join me in News – Paul had been one of the original collaborators on the Storyline data model, and was the author of the Stories ontology which it was derived from.  Over the past few months Paul has helped me realise that while allowing Storyline instances to be used as tags may have been useful to promote its adoption, it is semantically wrong.  A Storyline is a particular telling of a story – a version of events unique to that journalist or newsroom:

<Asset1>  :about  <Journalist A's version of events>

Doesn’t sound right does it? News assets are usually about events, and (as Yves pointed out long ago) events involve people and organisations, take place at locations, and can involve other factors. Storyline is the editorial layer on top of that basic annotation – a curation if you like. It is the decision process that goes in to the selection of assets  that describe that event or series of events.

Over the coming months Paul and I will be looking at how we can implement this distinction into the (now well established) newsroom tagging workflow, to make sure that the semantic annotations we are making are as accurate and useful as possible.

 

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