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Re: [ontolog-forum] ambiguity interferes with

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Deborah MacPherson" <debmacp@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sun, 11 Mar 2007 19:38:53 -0500
Message-id: <48f213f30703111738j4ca44be2xbdf390dbeace354d@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Right - but - when you are drawing, for example in AutoCAD, there are however many underlying strings of codes, positions, and lengths relative to an arbitrary 0,0....the act of drawing simply happens to figure out relationships in a methodical fashion and the operators never see the bottom level the computer uses to capture or regenerate the drawing. There is no reason for a CAD operator to look at at that level to see what they are drawing. Adrian Walker shows this as a blue line - tasks and decisions that happen above or below the line.

Where this distinction occurs in the subject maps you refer to are what I will be looking for in the link below. Honestly, I don't care about naming, I prefer numbers. I only really care about proportions and putting things that belong together next to each other for easy access and a flow or planned unfolding of a story - as if conceptual or digital structures could be like visiting a museum and feel like you are discovering and seeing but actually being led through by someone who loves the materials.

Who cares what the name of an area is - what is it like there and what else is next to it? How old is it? Is it fake? How can you plan a visit there? When will there be a Lonely Planet style guide to popular and correct physics on the internet?


On 3/11/07, Jack Park <jack.park@xxxxxxx> wrote:
There is a bit more at

It's worth reiterating one point in light of your inquiry: subject proxy
objects  are the objects contained in a subject map. A subject proxy,
itself, could be as simple as a database table the columns of which are
propertyType and propertyValue (in the simplest possible rendition).
Therefore, RDF is a reasonable way to represent the properties contained
in a subject proxy.

Among those properties will be "name properties"; every knowable name
for the subject represented by the subject proxy can be gathered
together for each with some metadata such as language or usage or name
type (e.g. acronym). With that organization, you can create a social
bookmarking website such as Tagomizer or Fuzzzy and, at the same time,
have a name be used without ambiguity in relation to many different
subjects. Some names, e.g. "George Bush" can serve the proxies that
represent both presidents and a tag with the same name. Each actual
proxy carries a locator, the database identity, which, itself, could be
a URI as has been discussed at length here. By separating names from
identity, we are able to accommodate many uses for the same name string.
Other properties facilitate disambiguation when a name string is used as
a query.

IMHO, with that architecture, or at least attention to what that
architecture offers as one creates ontologies, conceptual graphs, or
other representation systems, one need not write any "design criteria"
or even "building codes" for naming since the identification scheme is
decoupled from naming conventions. Within subject/object identification
schemes, I have no doubt that "building codes" will be appropriate.
Please note that I am using the term "naming conventions" here in a way
that seems vastly different from the way everybody else appears to use
that term; indeed, I suspect that when the term "name" is applied to a
concept, what is meant is "identifier". I use the term "naming
convention" more as an oxymoron: the only naming conventions I have
experienced appear in such contexts as, for example, giving the first
daughter the grandmother's name as a middle name, following the
appending of "jr", "II", etc to children who take a parent's name, and
other naming practices. I'm waving arms and leaving a lot out here, but
my intent is to show how I see "naming conventions" in the grand scheme
of communications.

In terms of naming subjects, well, those come from everywhere and are
just strings that are often ambiguous, as my experience with homeland
security suggests.

In terms of identifying conventions, the story is quite different; names
*can* serve in identification, but they often should not be the sole
property associated with identity. My experience with Philippine
Airlines giving my frequent flyer mileage to someone who was born on a
different date strongly suggests their computer programmers don't know that.


Deborah MacPherson wrote:
> Thanks John, printing and reading. Actually, I think ambiguity may be
> what makes the world go around and look forward to reading these materials.
> Thanks Jack, I'm so happy to see you describe the examples as "crafted"
> and will look at these. It would be interesting to hear the
> author/artist Steve Newcombs views. I realize now after reading
> ontolog-forum that probably homegrown tags and tag gardeners are what
> I'm interested in mainly to connect these people to their counterparts
> at museums and other government organizations with public information.
> In my opinoin, what needs to happen is writing or specifying this design
> criteria, which I don't think is an ontology after all. If there could
> be what Pat Hayes called a kind of "building code" that would really let
> the tag gardeners and PhD curators, research scientists and others
> actually connect to each other on a level playing field. Will look at
> your suggested links and digest them for awhile now. Thanks.
> This things have been bothering me and I appreciate the pointers and
> explanations.
> Sincerely,
> Debbie
> On 3/10/07, *John F. Sowa* < sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx <mailto: sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>>
> wrote:
>     Debbie,
>     Ambiguity is inevitable.
>     It sometimes causes trouble.  For certain special cases,
>     it is possible to create artificial languages that
>     eliminate ambiguity -- but *only* for those special cases.
>     It is not possible to eliminate ambiguity, because that
>     would also freeze science, engineering, business, art, and
>     *life* in a static, unalterable toy universe that endlessly
>     repeats its preset moves -- like a computer program.
>     See the following abstract and paper.
>     John
>     ________________________________________________
>     Source: http://www.jfsowa.com/pubs/dynonto.htm
>     A Dynamic Theory of Ontology
>     John F. Sowa
>     Abstract.  Natural languages are easy to learn by infants, they can
>     express any thought that any adult might ever conceive, and they
>     accommodate the limitations of human breathing rates and short-term
>     memory.  The first property implies a finite vocabulary, the second
>     implies infinite extensibility, and the third implies a small upper
>     bound on the length of phrases.  Together, they imply that most words in
>     a natural language will have an open-ended number of senses — ambiguity
>     is inevitable.  Peirce and Wittgenstein are two philosophers who
>     understood that vagueness and ambiguity are not defects in language, but
>     essential properties that enable it to accommodate anything and
>     everything that people need to say.  In analyzing the ambiguities,
>     Wittgenstein developed his theory of language games, which allow words
>     to have different senses in different contexts, applications, or modes
>     of use.  Recent developments in lexical semantics, which are remarkably
>     compatible with the views of Peirce and Wittgenstein, are based on the
>     recognition that words have an open-ended number of dynamically changing
>     and context-dependent microsenses. The resulting flexibility enables
>     natural languages to adapt to any possible subject from any perspective
>     for any humanly conceivable purpose. To achieve a comparable level of
>     flexibility with formal ontologies, this paper proposes an organization
>     with a dynamically evolving collection of formal theories, systematic
>     mappings to formal concept types and informal lexicons of natural
>     language terms, and a modularity that allows independent distributed
>     development and extension of all resources, formal and informal.

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Deborah MacPherson

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