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Re: [ontolog-forum] April 20 session on tagging ontolog content

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Patrick Durusau <patrick@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 06 Apr 2006 19:37:38 -0400
Message-id: <4435A642.60304@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Bill,    (01)

Bill Andersen wrote:    (02)

> Folks,
> Hate to jump in the middle of a conversation, but this one caught my eye.
Likewise but your response caught mine. ;-)    (03)

> dbedford@xxxxxxxxxxxxx wrote:
>> There is no one
>> final set of attributes for an entity that serves for all time, there 
>> is no one
>> set of entities that serves for all time.  
> I find this statement fantastic - it seems to be either an extremely 
> bold metaphysical claim or a trivial comment on the nature of language 
> use.  If the former, it deserves substantiation.  If the latter, it 
> should be noted to be a linguistic and not a metaphysical claim.
What do you find "fantastic" about this claim?    (04)

Hardly an "extremely bold metaphysical claim" to note that different 
users identify subjects with different entities. I saw it mentioned 
recently that it was reported several years ago that there were at least 
72 different ways to identify an insurance policy number.    (05)

Before you jump and say, "yes, but there is only one "insurance policy 
number" entity, let me point out that "insurance policy number" is an 
imposed category to which some but perhaps not all of the constituents 
would agree.    (06)

That is to say it is always possible to flatten the complexity of 
entities as seen by users into some grayish lump that statisfies the eye 
of the ontology drafter. What is in question is whether that has any 
meaning to the users whose entities have been so abused?    (07)

Not to mention losing the information that user A and user B thought 
they were dealing with distinct entities that you have now crushed into 
a single one. May or may not be important in some cases.    (08)

What requires justification is the flat lander view that a single set of 
entities will be good for all time and, more importantly, that those 
entities represent the views of all users.    (09)

For example, do we need only one entity for "father?" And can we infer 
that "father" must have a genetic relationship to any child born of a 
marriage to a mother? Seems to make sense, yes? Well, except that if you 
in Louisiana (state in the US) or any country other than the 
US/UK/Canada, the husband of the mother is presumed (conclusively) to be 
the father of any children of the marriage. Doesn't matter that it was 
physically impossible for the husband to be the "actual" father. I won't 
bother with the civil law tradition that lead to that rule but suffice 
it to say that "father" may mean different things to different users.    (010)

To summarize: Sure, one can always impose a single entity on any degree 
of diversity as seen by users, but then the usefulness of the result is 
in serious doubt. Why do you think there has been so little traction 
gained by the various "universal" ontologies? Or as a friend of mine 
puts it: "it is a good thing there are so many *different* universal 
ontologies to choose from." If the claim were "fantastic" there would be 
only one. That more than one exists proves the contrary to be the case.    (011)

Hope you are having a great day!    (012)

Patrick    (013)

Patrick Durusau
Chair, V1 - Text Processing: Office and Publishing Systems Interface
Co-Editor, ISO 13250, Topic Maps -- Reference Model
Member, Text Encoding Initiative Board of Directors, 2003-2005    (014)

Topic Maps: Human, not artificial, intelligence at work!     (015)

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