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Re: [ontolog-forum] tasteful tags...

To: "[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Sergei Nirenburg <sergei@xxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 9 Mar 2007 08:51:29 -0500
Message-id: <F6007CC0-A7D6-4078-8E26-69A38A765276@xxxxxxxx>
I tend to agree with John on the chances of ever
having uniformly standardized shared terminology.
Unless there is an informal standard driven by 
economics or the government, terminology options
will continue to proliferate, both within English and
across languages.

The original meanings of words are anything but sacred.
Semantic shift is an ongoing diachronic linguistic phenomenon
that is not about to stop. Indeed, the original meaning of
'bureau' marked in dictionaries of etymology as ' cloth cover
The process of fossilizing metaphors and metonymies is ever
present in human language use...

Acceptance or non-acceptance of terminology is an interesting
sociological phenomenon in itself, but it's not central to our enterprise.

So, my ontology's term set will, I believe, always be different from that of your ontology
[Pat: note the possessive without ownership]. Moreover, any surface
similarities in terminology are, in fact, dangerous, because formally
a concept named, say, vehicle, in several ontologies will typically
mean different things in each.


On Mar 9, 2007, at 8:08 AM, paola.dimaio@xxxxxxxxx wrote:

Peter, JOhn

me too would disagree with such statement.
(that the distinction between personal and shared sematic space is not useful)

I do however tend to read it more as an attempt to 'defend' an
original legitimate or commonly accepted
meaning from dilution, hybridization or entirely arbitrary usage which
in terms of information communication is rather dangerous

I do believe that original meanings of words are actually rather
sacred, and should be preserved. Also unfortunately 'standard'
languge' often flattens and deletes linguistic depth, so I am also
cautious about 'commonly accepted usage' (most of people are not that
literate and ignore etymological and semantic origins of words)

 However I dont think this has anything to do with 'tagging' per se

Taggin is a semantic technique to create an 'association' between
terms and concepts.

It is highly legitimate to create as many semantic associations as
individuals see fit for personal use This does not affect nor change
the primitive meaning or accepted usage of a term.

If in the system we want to preserve canonical semantic associations,
for example
tag a word with its synonyms, or follow a prescribed taxonomy
we should use 'metadata', which is a kind of default tag assigned to
an object by an authorized editor.

A 'folkstonomy' type of tag is nothing but an additional layer of
metadata that is created
using unstructured, casual and subjective criteria. In fact I agree
that a lot of the tags per se are useful only to their creator, but I
am excited by the prospect of exploring the new dimensions created by
people, cause the extemporary chaotic semantic structures that emerge
contain some kind of knowledge, although we may not be able to use
that yet.

The burden of creating semantic 'order' when using tags is not placed
upon the creator of such association, who is not bound to follow any
logical rule,  but upon the user of the tag. By navigating and
searching tag libraries, a user can simply explore sets of
associations as devised by other individuals, and possibly discover
new dimensions. The user can also narrow down the search or
application of a tag to the most conventional ones, or simply search
'metadata'. and classify the word according to the taxonomy of choice.
(provided the system has been designed intelligently)

I dont think we should be afraid of new dimensions, provided we can
integrated them with
the more conventional and robust knowledge structuring techniques that
we are most familiar and comfortable with. Tagging can be done in
addition to conventional taxonomic classification.

Paola Di Maio

On 3/9/07, Peter F Brown <peter@xxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
Either I've misunderstood something, or I don't agree with you.

You say in reply to my comment that what is important s to "make a
distinction between the personal terminology space and the potentially
shared" that "No such distinction is possible or useful."

We all "tag" different discourses according to the community in which
that discourse takes place (even if a community of one and the discourse
is all in the head) - it is always context dependent - if I'm tagging
stuff on a home server then my terminology is going to be based on the
terms of discourse at home, including "private language"; I'm not going
to use the same terminology in another environment - granted, it would
be a lot easier if I used a "standard" terminology in all contexts - it
saves me wasting time pecking around for terms instead of choosing from
a pre-populated list; and, importantly, it provides a hook for
collaboration - but this also kills organic development. The problem
comes obviously when you attribute or imply different meaning for the
same term in different contexts. So, the distinction IS useful.

As to whether it is possible: surely that is the whole point of
namespaces and similar techniques? The ISO Topic Maps standard uses
Published Subject Indicators and Identifiers precisely to give users the
possibility of stating "I mean this, whatever you or anyone else might
mean by it.." It is designed precisely to scope and identify your
terminology as well as providing a mechanism for giving common identity
to semantically identical terms (via "topic merging") even if the actual
word(s) used are different

Hence my surprise and confusion of your summary dismissal that the
distinctions are neither possible or useful.

If I'm just being dorkish or have completely lost the plot because I
didn't get enough sleep, I'm happy for you to put me straight offline

-----Original Message-----
Sent: 09 March 2007 00:45
To: [ontolog-forum]
Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] (PLEASE!!...) tasteful tags...

As I said, collaborative tagging is a typical example of
collaborative naming and coining of new words and terms.
In the book of Genesis, God gave that authority to Adam,
but I'm sure that Eve and the kids had a lot to say about
the choice of tags.  And nothing has changed ever since.

PFB> There's the rub: "for your own purposes" - is tagging
only for your own purpose (in which case you are right) or
to attempt to place the item being tagged in a concept space,
offered for sharing with others?

The answer is yes to all of the above.

PFB> Both are valid and what is important is to be able to
make a distinction between the personal terminology space
and the potentially shared.

No such distinction is possible or useful.

Some of the oldest roots in the IndoEuropean languages
(which go back at least 7 millennia and probably more)
are ma, pa, and sis -- babytalk syllables to which the
suffix -ter was added to form mater, pater, and sister.

I don't think that the baby who said "ma" when asking
for the nipple intended to distinguish personal
terminology from the potentially shared.  But that
primitive tag is still with us today.

Any tag that is exposed for public view, either deliberately
or inadvertently, becomes potentially shared.  If other
people find it useful, they adopt it, and it becomes part
of the common vocabulary.  If they don't, it is ignored.


"For as long as space and time endures
may I too abide to dispel misery and ignorance"


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