What is the Ontology Summit?

Started by Ontolog and NIST in 2006, the Ontology Summit is an annual series of events that involves the ontology community and other communities related to each year's theme. Founded by experienced, senior leaders in the community, each driven by a desire to collaborate across companies, projects, subfields to address issues relevant across the field and to advance the technology and practice generally. The summit is largely a self-organizing, bottom-up, volunteer driven effort, that solicits contributions from participants around the world in both industry and academia. Moreover, the community successfully exploits a variety of communication platforms to share and develop ideas, and work towards a consensus.

Each year's Summit consists of a series events and continued discourse spanning three months, culminating in a free, two-day face-to-face workshop and symposium at the National Institute of Standards (NIST) in Gaithersburg, Maryland, USA. Discussions employ email, chat and teleconferences, including presentations given by experts about issues relevant to each year’s theme. A Summit Communique, capturing the most important findings is developed throughout the summit and finalized at the symposium, endorsed by participants.

Bringing together a diverse and dispersed group of volunteers to self-organize and contribute toward a common goal is a particularly difficult collective action problem. A unique attribute of the ontology summit is that it accomplishes this outside the traditional conference framework. Its open IPR policy, coupled with continued commitment and support by Ontolog, ensures that all generated material, including ideas, stories, arguments, presentations, audio recordings and transcripts are archived and available in the public domain.

A group of initial volunteers organize and facilitate the summit activities, while seeking panelists and soliciting participation from leading companies and labs. Additionally, the community maintains low barriers to participations, welcoming both well-established professionals and those new to the field. Consequently, personal or corporate agenda are largely overwhelmed in this framework, allowing discussions to focus the challenges associated with each year’s theme.

The Ontology Summit program is now co-organized by Ontolog, NIST, NCOR, NCBO, IAOA & NCO_NITRD along with the co-sponsorship of other organizations that are supportive of the Summit goals and objectives.