Charting a Dataspace: Lessons from Lewis and Clark
A dataspace system (DSS) aims to manage all the data in an enterprise or project, be it structured, unstructured or somewhere between. A fundamental task in deploying a DSS is discovering the data sources in a space and understanding their relationships. Charting these connections helps prepare the way for other DSS services, such as cataloging, search, query, indexing, monitoring and extension. In this, the bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, it is enlightening to look back at the problems and issues they encountered in crossing an unfamiliar territory. Many challenges they confronted are not that different from those that arise in exploring a new dataspace: evaluating existing maps, understanding local legends and myths, translating between languages, reconciling different world models, identifying landmarks and surveying the countryside. I will illustrate these issues and possible approaches using examples from medication vocabularies and gene annotation.