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Re: [ontolog-forum] XML and Ontologies

To: "Owen_Ambur@xxxxxxxxxxx" <Owen_Ambur@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Cc: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Peter Yim" <peter.yim@xxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 28 Dec 2006 00:00:36 -0800
Message-id: <af8f58ac0612280000s6f58e414ubd322c4fe67ec4c9@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Thank you very much, Owen ...    (01)

I love you answers and admire your pragmatism. ... as you suggested,
we will continue to "enjoy our time in the tavern" in the mean time,
AND, hopefully, do something useful for people while we are at it.    (02)

Enjoy your retirement! ... and come hang out, every now and then, and
share your wisdom with us (if you please).    (03)

Best wishes.  =ppy
--    (04)

On 12/26/06, Owen_Ambur@xxxxxxxxxxx <Owen_Ambur@xxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> Peter, as I think you know, I am retiring with 34 years of Federal service
> next week, on January 3.  Your message is among the loose ends I've been
> wanting to tie up before I depart.  See my responses below in [brackets].
> Owen    (05)

>              "Peter P. Yim"
>              <peter.yim@xxxxxx
>              om>                                                        To
>              Sent by:                  "[ontolog-forum]"
>              ontolog-forum-bou         <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
>              nces@xxxxxxxxxxxx                                          cc
>              .net
>                                                                    Subject
>                                        XML and Ontologies [was - Re:
>              08/16/2006 01:33          [ontolog-forum]  Proceedings of the
>              AM                        Rex Broooks - Thu 2006.08.10]
>              Please respond to
>              "[ontolog-forum]
>                      "
>              <ontolog-forum@on
>               tolog.cim3.net>
>    (06)

> Owen,
> Let me take a crack at your questions (purely as an attempt to
> get more dialog going) ...
> ... I'll take it from a fictitious position of someone trying to
> sell a hardcore-XMLmer on Ontologies or Ontolog (much the same
> way that XMLmer had to sell the hardcore-Database guys on why
> they would need XML). I'll attempt only one section at a time ...
> and hope that others will pick up and continue to answer the rest
> of your questions in the interim.
>  >> [OA] 1) How can we avoid forcing folks like me to subscribe
>  >> to yet another group, listserv, "portal" or otherwise named
>  >> "stovepipe" system in order to share information with those
>  >> with whom they hold interests in common, however fleeting or
>  >> narrowly focused those interests might be?
>  >>
>  >> For example, can an XML schema be specified enabling folks
>  >> to describe their own interests on *any* site (e.g., their
>  >> own, personal Web sites) anywhere on the Web, thus avoiding
>  >> the need for them to subscribe to anyone else's site, while
>  >> intermediary sites could index, automatically establish
>  >> linkages, and enable productive syntheses of information
>  >> along specialized lines of interest?
> [ppy] Let's look at this from two angles. The social aspect of
> participation in a community of practice (CoP), and the mechanism
> of "sharing information" in the scenario you described.
> First off, the CoP (see more about what we mean by that at:
> http://ontolog.cim3.net/cgi-bin/wiki.pl?CommunityofPractice,
> which Ontolog claims to be a virtual version of one) is a "small
> group of people who've worked together over a period of time. Not
> a team, not a task force, not necessarily an authorized or
> identified group. They are peers in the execution of 'real work.'
> What holds them together is a common sense of purpose and a real
> need to know what each other knows." ... I, for one, find this
> setting to be rather attractive in handling "wicked problems"
> (ref: http://www.cognexus.org/id42.htm
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wicked_problems or
> http://www.poppendieck.com/wicked.htm), and I purport that most
> of us are actually working in the "wicked problems" (as opposed
> to "tame problems") space. Most of the time, we can hardly
> articulate the problem ... let alone going straight off to hammer
> out the solution. We need this kind of organic work environment
> and ecology to "develop" what may become viable solutions to
> those problems.    (07)

[Marty Wagner of GSA made a statement at an eGov conference a few years ago
that has stuck with me:  "There is a tendency to gravitate toward problems
that cannot be solved."  My interpretation is that few problems truly fall
into that category, but many, if not most folks fail to break them down
into manageable "chunks" -- as directed by Raines' Rule #7:
http://colab.cim3.net/cgi-bin/wiki.pl?RainesRule_7  My working hypothesis
is that most folks would rather dream big dreams than take small steps each
and every day toward reasonable objectives.  However, I choose not to
participate in such communities.  I belief life is too short and can be
better spent than that.]    (08)

> Participation in a CoP should be more akin to hanging out at the
> tavern, rather than going to class. "Forcing" would be too strong
> a word for the circumstances.    (09)

[Hanging out in taverns is not something I care to do, at least not since I
met my wife.  If "forcing" is not the right term, what other term would you
use to describe what is currently required for folks to engage in
collaboration?  Are we not required (forced) to do things like re-create
our digital personas on systems imposed upon us by others?  Indeed, in a
sense, even I am suggesting that folks should be "forced" to render their
goals and objectives in valid XML instance documents in order to *enable*
discovery and linkages among those with common interests on the Web.
However, I use that term in the same sense that we are forced to use HTML,
HTTP, and IP in order to participate in the Web at all.  What I am
suggesting is that the requirements imposed upon potential collaborators be
as *low* as possible.  I believe they can be greatly lowered, but it seems
to me that even some so-called "open source" advocates may have incentives
to resist such lowering of the bars to entry.]    (010)

> As for the mechanism ... I believe what you are asking for is
> actually getting there, as web 2.0 implementations become more
> pervasive. At Ontolog, we do things like RSS and podcast too!    (011)

[I agree that RSS, Atom, etc. are good steps in the right direction.
However, I know that we can still do better and I believe the best, if not
the only way to make progress is in relatively small, manageable steps.]    (012)

> One caveat, though, when you talk about "sharing information" and
> start making references to notions like "interests," "productive
> syntheses of information," ... etc. you are talking "sharing
> knowledge" and "knowledge reuse," rather than just going after
> mechanisms that helps ship bits (or messages) around. One more
> enabler seems to be in order, especially if one wants to take the
> human out of the loop (and let the machine-to-machine process
> take on the workload) as much as possible ... and that would be
> our "ontology".    (013)

[With respect to "interests," don't you think that a good place to start
might be for .gov agencies to render their strategic goal and objective
statements in valid XML instance documents on the Web?  To me, the concept
of the Semantic Web is still a bit fuzzy.  However, the concept of a
Strategic Semantic Web is crystal clear to me.]    (014)

> That additional layer of abstraction, would potentially help us
> discern (using your example), when I say my interest is in "CIM,"
> whether I am actually interested in "Computer Integrated
> Manufacturing," "Common Information Model," "Customer Information
> Management," or "Curtis Institute of Music," or the hundreds of
> other possibilities that "CIM" might denote. ... And, if the
> system already 'knows' its the first of those, then it could also
> be 'aware' that I might, at the same time, be interested in
> "automation," "AS/RS," "ERP," "process simulation," ... and a
> whole bunch of other things (noting that none of which even share
> the same search word/term with what the CIM acronym stood for.)    (015)

[I believe too many of us may be focusing too much on "machine
intelligence" rather than sharing and pursuing common objectives more
efficiently and effectively among human beings.  I'm not necessarily
challenging the machine intelligence paradigm in the longer run.  However,
I do believe we are missing opportunities every day to take measurable
steps in the right direction by focusing on what individual human beings
are willing and able to do right now.]    (016)

> Therefore, the short answer to your question:
> (a) I think *working this out in a CoP setting is a good idea*
> (we're not forcing anyone), and    (017)

[Best of luck to you and your colleagues who willingly choose to "hang out
at the tavern".]    (018)

> (b) to enable what you are looking for, we need to be able to
> properly represent 'semantics' in our systems, and, to that end,
>   *the need for ontologies* seems to be in order. ... Cheers.  =ppy    (019)

[Google does a pretty good job with full-text indexing of "pages".  (I use
it in lieu of browsing, even on my own Web sites.  To me, browsing is a bit
like hanging out in a tavern.)  Imagine the power of selective searching of
strategic goal and objective statements -- particularly if and when
organizations ever do start doing what they say they intend to do, i.e.,
link everything they do to a strategic objective.  (Individuals who choose
to lead mission-directed -- as opposed to tavern-focused -- lives could
begin to do likewise.)  Meaningful steps in that direction can be taken
very soon.  Taking such steps is where I choose to spend my time and
effort.  To the degree that you and others choose to spend your time and
effort on ontologies, I look forward to seeing the results in terms that
are meaningful to me.  In the meantime, I hope and trust you'll be enjoying
your time in the tavern.]  ... Owen
---    (020)

> Peter P. Yim wrote Mon, 14 Aug 2006 12:23:43 -0700:
> > Thank you, Owen.
> >
> > Folks ... Owen Amber (DoI, XML-CoP) came back with this set of thought
> > provoking, and actually, rather challenging questions.
> >
> > Each and everyone of Owen's questions calls for some deep thinking, some
> > form of answer/solution, but (evidently, more importantly to Owen) some
> > action to follow.
> >
> > ... comments, suggestions, insights, solicited. Extending the real time
> > discussion to this asynchronous platform, let's see if our community can
> > 'collectively' take a crack at Owen's challenge!
> >
> > Cheers.  =ppy
> > --    (021)

> > Owen_Ambur@xxxxxxxxxxx wrote Mon, 14 Aug 2006 08:49:52 -0400:
> >>
> >> Peter, I'm not sure I can afford to be subscribed to more groups or
> >> stovepipe IT systems, and I am skeptical about the potential
> productivity
> >> of my involvement in the ontolog forum.  However, since you and Duane
> >> think it might be worthwhile,  I am willing to give it a try.
> >
> >> Aside from the issue of what actions folks like me may wish to consider
> >> taking as a result of dialog on the telecon last week, here are some
> >> other issues I'd like to explore with anyone who may share my interest
> >> in doing so:
> >
> >> 1) How can we avoid forcing folks like me to subscribe to yet another
> >> group, listserv, "portal" or otherwise named "stovepipe" system in
> >> order to share information with those with whom they hold interests in
> >> common, however fleeting or narrowly focused those interests might be?
> >
> >> For example, can an XML schema be specified enabling folks to describe
> >> their own interests on *any* site (e.g., their own, personal Web sites)
> >> anywhere on the Web, thus avoiding the need for them to subscribe to
> >> anyone else's site, while intermediary sites could index,
> >> automatically establish linkages, and enable productive syntheses
> >> of information along specialized lines of interest?
> >
> >> 2) How can the term "ontology" be operationally defined in terms of
> >> what folks like me might be able to do -- on our own Web sites, with
> >> no training nor any specialized tools -- to contribute to realization
> >> of the vision of the semantic Web?
> >
> >> BTW, while I am far from being an ontological expert, from what I have
> >> seen and heard, my working definition of the term "ontology" is "someone
> >> else's top-level taxonomy that they are trying to impose on me."
> >
> >> 3) On the telecon last week someone (I think it was the guy from
> >> Zapthink) said one of his customers decided not to use XML for one of
> >> their applications because there was no need to deal with the excessive
> >> overhead
> >> associated with the verbosity of the XML coding.  While it is easy to
> >> understand why compression and other means might be used to accelerate
> >> the transmission of the electrons, the separation of content from its
> >> presentation has much to do with the fact that so many of our business
> >> processes are still so bound up in paper.  Intuitively as well as
> >> logically
> >> speaking, people know they cannot trust systems whose records lack
> >> integrity, including presentational integrity.  The speed with which
> >> electrons can be transmitted is often not the most important business
> >> issue, indeed far from it.
> >
> >> Thus, I'd be curious to know whether the data being transmitted in the
> >> referenced application is important and, if so, whether it ever needs
> >> to be shared with anyone else, e.g., partners, auditors, shareholders,
> >> or other stakeholders.  If not, how can it be important?  If so, do the
> >> benefits of
> >> accelerated internal transmission offset the costs associated with the
> >> inability to share the data readily with others?  Presumably so, but I'm
> >> curious to know how the records management (and sharing) requirements
> are
> >> being addressed.
> >
> >> 4) Finally and perhaps most importantly, are there reusable components
> >> and/or specifications related to ontologies for which the CIO Council's
> >> ET.gov site/process might productively be used to build .gov
> >> communities of
> >> practice to foster implementation and incorporation in the Federal
> >> Enterprise Architecture (FEA) Technical Reference Model (TRM) or Service
> >> Component Reference Model (SRM) and/or the Federal Transition Framework
> >> (FTF) Catalog, for potential Governmentwide usage?
> >> http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/egov/a-2-EAFTF.html
> >
> >> Note:  Stage 1 of the ET.gov site/process implements the principle
> >> outlined in item 1 above.  http://et.gov/stage1.htm  Folks can post
> >> their valid XML
> >> instance documents anywhere on the public Web.  They are not required to
> >> "subscribe" to or otherwise re-create their digital personas at ET.gov.
> >> Indeed, to avoid implications associated with the Privacy Act, we do not
> >> store any personally identifiable information on the site.  If
> submitters
> >> wish to provide such information, it is stored on their own site or the
> >> site or the site of any intermediary service they may choose to use.
> >> http://et.gov/policies.aspx#personalinformation
> >
> >> If you see any prospects for mutually productive pursuit along any of
> >> these lines, I will be pleased to explore opportunities for
> collaboration
> >> with anyone who may be interested in actions (small, manageable steps)
> >> that we might take together as well as individually.
> >>
> >> Owen
> > ---    (022)

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