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

To: patrick@xxxxxxxxxxx, "[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Bill Andersen <andersen@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 6 Apr 2006 19:51:41 -0400
Message-id: <CE81CD04-4308-41CD-80FA-4086B0FE76F0@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Dear Patrick,    (01)

You just made, very effectively, my point about language use.  When I  
see the word "entity" I do not take it to mean "word".  If we want to  
say "word" we should say "word".  Nobody disputes that words and  
semantics are malleable, as you indicate below. The word "entity" has  
a respectable heritage dating long before its being co-opted (as has  
been the word "ontology") by the IT community.    (02)

        .bill    (03)

On Apr 6, 2006, at 19:37 , Patrick Durusau wrote:    (04)

> Bill,
> Bill Andersen wrote:
>> Folks,
>> Hate to jump in the middle of a conversation, but this one caught  
>> my eye.
> Likewise but your response caught mine. ;-)
>> 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?
> 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.
> 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.
> 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?
> 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.
> 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.
> 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.
> 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.
> Hope you are having a great day!
> Patrick
> -- 
> Patrick Durusau
> Patrick@xxxxxxxxxxx
> 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
> Topic Maps: Human, not artificial, intelligence at work!
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>    (05)

Bill Andersen (andersen@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx)
Chief Scientist
Ontology Works, Inc. (www.ontologyworks.com)
3600 O'Donnell Street, Suite 600
Baltimore, MD 21224
Office: 410-675-1201
Cell: 443-858-6444    (06)

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