[foaf-dev] Fictional stuff (was: Re: foaf:Person vs crm:E21.Person)

Michael Smethurst Michael.Smethurst at bbc.co.uk
Thu Jun 4 23:28:31 CEST 2009

Whoops, meant to send that to list too. Sorry - sleepy :-)

-----Original Message-----
From: Michael Smethurst

> Speaking of which: does anyone know if there are any vocabularies that model fiction? Fictional universes, places, times, characters? Structure of fictional narration?
> I think it's worth having those as classes of their own. Especially characters deserve a special treatment I think. According to Wikipedia [1]: "A character is any person, persona, identity, or entity that exists in a work of art. The process of conveying information about characters in fiction is called characterisation. Characters may be entirely fictional or based on real, historical entities. Characters may be human, supernatural, mythical, divine, animal, or personifications of an abstraction."
> So I would say the character John Malkovich in "Being John Malkovich" is a separate entity from the real-life person John Malkovich. This enables you to describe the special characteristics given to him in the film and to describe his actions in it without implying that the real person did that. I've done some initial work on that sort of thing. I was just wondering if there is any existing stuff before pursuing it.

Hi Simon

We (the BBC) are just kicking of a project to make 'character pages' and are coming across all the issues you describe here. Obviously being the bbc we tend to get stuck on doctor who (no bbc meeting ever happens without a mention of doctor who [2] ;-) ). Is each doctor a different character, different portrayal, different persona etc...?

Similar problems with different dramatisations or sketches based on novels. Is character x from the tv adaption the same as character x from the film or character x from the radio drama or character x from the comedy sketch or character x from the opera performance? are they different portrayals of the same character? can 2 different actors make the same 'portrayal'? as ever you rapidly run of of labels to capture the concepts...

our favourite edge case for the moment is Miley Cyrus who portrays Miley Stewart who portrays Hannah Montana (also played by Miley Cyrus) [3]. luckily it's not broadcast by the bbc so we're ducking such pomo horrors for now ;-)

Another problem we've had in the past has been the typing of 'people' as real or fictional. it starts out fairly easy and rapidly heads into tricky territory when u hit religion. however u handle it, dealing with "human, supernatural, mythical, divine [...] or personifications of an abstraction" ends up upsetting someone...

Outside drama you get the same kind of issues in music with multiple aliases often taking the form of characters (aladin sane etc). But you also get aliases that are only borderline characters (ringo star is an alias but is he a character?!? freddy mercury? in some ways they're both characters but then so are some artists who use their given and family names....)

Haven't come across much outside SUDs and Paul Rissen's work that tries to capture fictional universes, timelines etc. If you do go ahead with this work it'd be really good if you kept us informed of progress. We can supply endless use cases and getting external input would help us get our modelling sorted. Sorting definitions for character, portrayal, persona etc feels like the first step

Hope to hear from you

> Thanks,
> Simon

> [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Character_(arts)
[2] http://www.currybet.net/cbet_blog/2009/03/currybets_law.php
[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hannah_Montana

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