Conceptual Data Structures

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Conceptual Data Structures (CDS) is a common data model for personal, subjective organisation of content. Using CDS, a knowledge organisation system can express its data. It can then be exchanged between computer applications and published in a machine-readable format in the Web. CDS is simple enough to be used directly as a conceptual model for user interfaces.

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CDS includes a lightweight top-level ontology about relations that naturally occur in common knowledge artefacts. It is designed to bridge the gap between unstructured content like informal notes and formal semant.css like ontologies by allowing the use of vague semant.css and by subsuming arbitrary relation types under more general ones. By that it is suitable for representing knowledge in various degrees of formalisation a uniform fashion, allowing gradual elaboration.

CDS serves two purposes: First, as a guideline for future personal knowledge management tools, providing a set of crucial structural primitives. Second, the RDF-based representation of CDS can serve as a knowledge exchange format. It is able to represent vague or even inconsistent knowledge structures.

The core top-level relations in CDS are

  • similar (sameAs, aliasOf, ...)
  • order (before, after, etc.)
  • hierarchy (subsuming semantic relations like is a and part_of)
  • linking (subsuming hyperlinks as well as any other freely specified relation carrying formal semant.css or not)
  • annotation (subsuming freeform notes as well as tags and types)

Try it out[edit]

If you want to play around with CDS ... see Hypertext Knowledge Workbench - its web-based. Just one click away.


  • CDS builds on Semantic Web Content Model (SWCM)
  • All CDS built-in ontologies can be found in Turtle and RDF/XML in SVN


CDS Tools - a single application that bundles in less than 11 MB:


SVN access

See Also[edit]

Related Work - there are many works that could fit here. For a start, explore my delicious tag cds.

Literature on CDS[edit]