Technological interoperability standards for digital information and communication systems
One of the challenges of the international standards today is probably the harmonization of operational models of digital information and communication networks. Three aspects of interoperability are often studied: organizational, technological and semantic. The interest I have for interoperability standards is particularly oriented towards semantic interoperability of content. Metadata models and schemas, application profiles and best practice guides such as Dublin Core (ISO 15836 standard), LOM (IEEE 1484.12.1-2002) or MLO (Metadata for Learning Opportunities) are universal initiatives benefiting to the web environment and the world of education. However, the contextualization of these universal standards still requires the use of application profiles adapted to local specifications. This increase and diversifies the versions in use and thereby reduces the degree of interoperability among systems. The examples of application profiles like LOM.fr, CDM.fr. etc. constitute a research material in a part of my publications.
Languages automation: binary encoding, syntactic analysis and semantic representations in the digital world
This theme covers the various aspects of languages automated processing from the languages standardized encoding to Man-Machine Interfaces going through issues of digital contents and modes of their organization, representation and indexing (SEO) by multilingual metadata on the networks. ISO standards for characters encoding and models of metadata schemas and application profiles for learning resources, are among my publications topics. Specific issues were treated like bidirectionality algorithms in multilingual Man-Machine interfaces, localization and internationalization of IT applications and URI, etc. These issues of digital multilingualism reappeared later in my research activities when dealing with semantics multilingual terminology networks and technology interoperability standards.
The Digital Humanities
Digital globalization confronts all academic stakeholders with new forms of collaboration, new habitus that are urgent to be preserved in all domains - not only experimental sciences but also the humanities and culture - that shape the very identity of citizenship around the world. World collegiality of Digital Humanities is assured in theory (Adho/Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations, OCLC/Online Computer Library Center), but obviously this attention to questions related with digital heritage was seen first in the English-speaking community (mainly on the North) which has thus gained an considerable advance compared to the rest of the world.
My interest into Digital Humanities as a research field - both theoretical and practical - aims to better understand - and thus make a practical action - by analyzing the difficulties and appropriating this new digital collegiality in a linguistic heritage context much more complex than the one of north American English, where the modern digital Humanities first emerged. Studies of media appropriation are old, but the new context of global convergence of multimedia, networking and standards require more studies to understand these new phenomena. If we strictly confine to the study of the linguistic communication (oral or written), the interest for this axis focuses on the study of more codified and expected habitus. It is certain, however, that we should assess and consider an ancient/modern debate in the acceptance of new paradigms of digital technology in the habit of humanities and exact sciences, all concerned with the inevitable rise of interdisciplinarity.
Within the recent interest of the French-speaking world into Digital Human, I am more interested in issues of preservation and development of multilingual and multicultural heritage. Starting from my own multilingual and multicultural background, I concentrate on the Mediterranean area where academic and literary heritage is rich enough to constitue an interesting research challenge. The Maghreb region is particularly essential as a founding pillar in my research activity about Digital Humanities. Its polyglossia and multilingualism (Arabic literary but also dialectal languages and dialects Berber, French, English), is a complex facet of its heritage to which may be added the old Libyan, Roman and Hebrew linguistic strata.
The specific orientation highlighted under this research axis is attached to the literary and linguistic work on multilingual corpus, both oral and written. I already conducted an international research project focusing these research concerns. "HumanitéDigitMaghreb" is a projetct financed by ISCC/CNRS (France) and hosted by MICA EA-4426 laboratory at Bordeaux 3 university .
In this project, the interdisciplinary approach to multilingual values is highlighted at several levels:
- First, aside its interdisciplinary basis, digital humanities are involved in the "living together" between Humanities scholar communities. They dispose for that of references to reinforce the principle of exchange and collaboration between disciplines in the same field;
- The interdisciplinary model of digital humanities then enhances the dialogue created between the humanities and exact sciences through interoperable reference standards. The implementation of converging models of metadata schemas in various disciplines strengthens mutual understanding and exchange between academic communities;
- For these reasons, the project "HumanitéDigitMaghreb" is a research-action in terms of comparative epistemology, but also interms of action theories. The project therefore establishes a balance of theoretical knowledge and practical results on issues of common appropriation of digital uses;
- The project helped draw a number of lessons in education sciences, in literary and cultural research, in linguistics (multilingualism, local linguistic approach, etc ....);
- It also helped draw lessons in terms of information and communication sciences regarding scholar use of digital resources and their compared ownership both in the North and South.
Terminology and semantic networks
This research field is a natural evolution of the interest given to metadata as a key component of digital information systems. Metadata requires more appropriate semantic processing to translate the meaning of descriptive values without ambiguity or confusion. Semantic processing tools such as controlled vocabularies and specialized ontologies are now very fashionable in leading disciplines such as medicine or agriculture. Developing a terminology leads to enhanced interoperability in the process of resources exchange. A natural consequence of this perspective is undoubtedly building considerable aggregations of content and repositories of interchangeable and interoperable data supports. Standardized terminology is, therefore, one of the founding components used to build the semantic networks. The interest given to this terminological axis started from the work of ISO Technical Committee 37 and especially the TMF standard (Terminological Markup Framework / ISO 16642) and ISO 11179 for the establishment of standardized terminology records.
Technological standards for e-Learning
In the field of education, with specifications such as AICC, IMS and SCORM, content aggregations are largely interchangeable between educational platforms and easily reusable under scenarios of construct ion and deconstruction adapted to the course, individuals and groups. Metadata schemas and controlled vocabularies for the description of educational resources still benefit from being strengthened to develop interoperable learning objects repositories, like those of Open archives. The world of e-Learning is subject of many of my publications. Given my active participation in e-Learning activities (tutoring on-line French Masters programs), I concentrate on e-Learning platforms, strategies for deploying e-Learning systems in academic circles, building standardized eLearning resources and interoperable content aggregations.
On the other hand, as a chied delegation of the Agence universitaire de la Francophonie (AUF) Liaison with the Subcommittee 36 of ISO/IEC JTC1 (ISO/IEC JTC1 SC36), and convener of its Working grope 1, my interest in e-Learning standards has opened a new line of research which acquires the greater part of my research activity.
The 'all-digital' policy and multimedia standardization: a new way of converging information and communication systems
The "all-digital" is a concept born with original computers that accepted until the 1970s, to process only encoded and formal data (mostly calculations). However, the digital age has then progressively increased the perceptual-communicative modalities and mediation to generate a progressive migration towards information and communication decentralized systems, federating transparently all options and technological solutions that the digital revolution put at our disposal. This is the principle of "convergence". It is also the sign of the final disbandment of the analog broadcasting that becomes increasingly a reality in areas such as Television, radio and other forms of mass-media. However, information and communication networks and scientific research systems are not yet at this stage of optimization. The issue of interoperability of metadata and standards adopted at international level for referencing online resources is still an unterminated problem.
We are a group of teacher-researchers who have opted for an exploration of the solutions that seem to converge towards the confirmation of MPEG standards as a serious alternative to a standardized metadata framework for e-Learning and the 'e-procurment. We addressed the fundamental question of the potential of MPEG standards to serve as a reference framework for an educational metadatamodel which would cooperate or replace the emblematic and widespread IMS model. These issues are widely debated today in the SC36.