Issue 241: Wider practical scope note of CRM

Starting Date: 
Working Group: 

Posted by Martin 17/2/2014 

Should we define the practical scope of the CRM wider than "museums" ? 
I believe yes: 

"....the Practical Scope, 
which is expressed by the overall scope of a reference set of specific identifiable museum documentation 
standards and practices that the CRM aims to encompass..." 

Posted by Athanasios Velios 18/2/2014 

I do not think that the word "museum" stops people from using it in other contexts. We consider it within the context of libraries and archives - but of course to book conservators, libraries are museums... 

All the best, 



Posted by Anja Masur 19/2/2014 

I think we should change this as CIDOC indeed adresses far more than only museums. And I guess that it is confusing for people not being that familiar with CIDOC to read about museums ... 


Posted by Phil Carlisle 19/2/2014 

I'd definitely support the change. The Getty GCI/World Monuments Fund Arches project ( has been developing a cultural heritage inventory for the built and buried heritage and this is underpinned with graphs based on the CRM and the CIDOC Core Data Standard for Archaeological and Architectural Sites. 


Posted by Richard Light 20/2/2014 

OK, thanks: I think I now understand what is going on. The documents defining the CRM make reference to the web site page [1], noting that it provides more detail. (BTW, the URL in the CRM footnote is out of date [2].) 

It looks as though the web page has [subsequently?] been updated so that it goes beyond what the CRM document says. Your question is about "Practical scope", but in fact the web site Scope page broadens out the definition of "Intended scope" [3]. Clearly it would make sense for the two to be re-aligned, and I would support changing the "Intended scope" definition in the CRM document so that it matches the web page wording. In addition, the bullet point wording on the web page has been updated, compared with the CRM document text. Shouldn't the two be the same? 

[This raises a more general issue: is it wise to include "quotations" from the CRM text as web page content on the CRM site? As soon as you do so, there is the challenge of keeping the two versions in synch with each other, and/or of making clear to the reader which is the authoritative version.] 

I would make a rather different point about "Practical scope". I agree that it should have "museum documentation" replaced by "cultural heritage". However, what interests me is that the wording in the CRM document [4] doesn't state plainly what is actually going on. The wording isn't actually wrong, it just isn't very helpful. I would prefer it if the document said "The Practical Scope^2 of the CRM is the set of /cultural heritage /standards /which //have been mapped to the CRM/. The CRM covers the same domain of discourse as the union of these reference standards; this means that /for/ data correctly encoded according to these /cultural heritage /standards there can be a CRM-compatible expression that conveys the same meaning." (changes in italic) Then footnote 2 could say "The Practical Scope of the CRM is constantly increasing as mapping projects are completed. See for an up-to-date list of cultural heritage standards for which CRM mappings are available." 

Best wishes, 


[2] "The Practical Scope of the CIDOC CRM, including a list of the relevant museum documentation standards, is discussed in more detail on the CIDOC CRM website at /
[3] "The intended scope of the CIDOC CRM may be defined as all information required for the scientific documentation of /cultural heritage /collections" 


Posted by Richard Light 20/2/2014 

Sorry: missed one point, which is that the section in the CRM text starts with the sentence "The overall scope of the CIDOC CRM can be summarised in simple terms as the curated knowledge of museums." This clearly needs updating as well. 


Posted by Martin 20/2/2014 

Thank you! Sound good. 

In "practice", the real scope the CRM ended up with is human activities and their products in the past and their current evidence. We apply it quite successfully to scientific records ("metadata") of all sciences, and Joao even referred to legislation activities. In European Commission Jargon, they often talk about "cultural and scientific heritage" in the framework of research funds. 


Posted by Richard Light on 20/2/2014 

I'd be happy with "cultural and scientific heritage". Presumably there is a certain amount of formality to be observed in updating the text of the CRM document itself, even the explanatory sections, given that it is an ISO Standard? 

BTW, I'm currently keeping my promise to review the web site design: a "site map with comments" will be on its way to the list later today or tomorrow. 


Posted by Stephen Stead 21/02/2014 

I think it should be broadened to "Cultural Heritage" in general. 


Posted by Dominic 22/02/2014 

I already say in documentation, cultural heritage.... and beyond. 


Posted by Christian Emil on 24/02/2014 

The scope can be extended to cultural heritage in general with the caveat: the term "cultural heritage in general" is very, very wide and we do not intend to model the entire world. 

Perhaps one could say that the scope is not limited to museums. 


Posted by Martin 25/02/2014 

I agree. 

We should also make the distinction of Theoretical and Practical Scope. Practical means that we have studied applications in this direction or aiming at in short terms. 

So far, we have restricted ourselves, due to the nature of documentation structures in ALMI and archaeology, to a world of material particular relations of the past in human scale. 

We have not touched relations in collective behaviour (such political movements, trading routes), neither in categorical behaviour (such as the interplay of parts of a machine or of a manufacturing procedure). We have not touched emotional, psychological facts, such as love, fear, racism etc. We only model states of affairs that can be described in terms of distinct entities and relationships. 
I'd expect all these things being out of scope? 

Would someone volunteer to revise the text?



Current Proposal: 

In the 32nd joined meeting of the CIDOC CRM SIG and ISO/TC46/SC4/WG9 and the 25th FRBR - CIDOC CRM Harmonization meeting, sig  discussing about this issue agreed that it is an epistemological question and has a philosophical aspect. The sig assigned to Dominic with the help of Martin Doerr, George Brusecker, Maria Daskalaki, to write proposals.