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Re: [ontolog-forum] Ontology and methodology

To: "Pat Hayes" <phayes@xxxxxxx>
Cc: "[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Peter F Brown" <peter@xxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 19 Mar 2007 22:14:17 +0100
Message-id: <1B2253B0359130439EA571FF30251AAE025638@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Thanks for replying in equally robust form...    (01)

Firstly, "academic" is definitely not used by me as a term of abuse - I use it 
with immense respect. But your later comment betrayed a similar alleged trait: 
"management", and I guess you *do* mean to use it as a term of abuse!    (02)

Secondly, I do accept your correction regarding my throwaway phrase "bigger 
picture": you are right, it should be management picture..    (03)

You touch on an essential question here: My issue with programmers and many 
programming paradigms is that they focus in and get the job done, fine, but 
without any regard to the rest of the world. And when people say "the rest of 
the world ain't my problem" and management should just get outta the way, I'm 
concerned about some fundamental issues:
- governance: it's all fine defining loads of terms, but who's going to take 
the rap when the lawyers call? I've seen many websites and eServices bomb 
because the programmers never gave a damn about what anyone thought of their 
work, until law, competition, business effectiveness, accessibility, you name 
it, came along...Programmers may write 90% of the code, but the amount written 
might be a heck of a lot less if more than 50% of it wasn't just "translating" 
System A's stuff to work with System B's...
- ownership: who is going to stand up and say I "own" these definitions and 
defend them when they don't reflect what all the "lay users" mean in the 
real-world activities that are keeping an enterprise running? How many 
wonderful "business process" models have I seen that fail totally to capture 
the real work of an enterprise because they look at the formal rules but don't 
talk to the people who do the real work? That's when you need an enterprise 
ontology: it's not an academic or specialist exercise, it has to involve all 
stakeholders and fight for its place as an important business asset. If it does 
that, it will succeed because of management support and buy-in; If it doesn't, 
then, yes, it's hot air and dangerous at that because it'll be another false 
peak of expectation;
- interoperability: I think it *is* an important issue because we are not 
islands of perfection: we can all learn from each other and build better models 
by doing so. That requires that we have a method and models by which to express 
our "information territories" in a commonly understandable way. I'm really 
interested in philosophy and logic, can be as pedantic as the next person and 
while away hours on terminology definitions but at the end of the day, I want 
to see ontology work come out of its specialist "ghetto" and take an important 
place central in information architecture and information asset management, and 
that means bringing it to a wider audience and to the management levels.    (04)

That is what I expect from Ontology.    (05)

All the best,    (06)

-----Original Message-----
From: Pat Hayes [mailto:phayes@xxxxxxx] 
Sent: 19 March 2007 21:48
To: Peter F Brown
Cc: [ontolog-forum] 
Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] Ontology and methodology    (07)

>-1, except for the word "comprehensibility" (as long as you include non
>philosophers, ontologists, etc in that target audience).    (08)

Yes, I do. Though ontologists' understanding is 
important but of a different kind than that of a 
lay user.    (09)

>Engineering-led projects without architects may perform great on their
>own, but they often suck when it comes to being understood by anyone
>other than the original designers or fitting in with anything else. An
>ontology development without any desire for, or perspective towards,
>interoperability - with anyone beyond their own territory - is likely to
>be abstract, academic, hot-air    (010)

I think you are confusing two issues. It might 
not be very interoperable, but that doesn't in 
itself make it abstract or academic or hot-airish 
(I just LOVE it when "academic" becomes a term of 
abuse in these discussions). I agree that 
interoperation is important: the Semantic Web 
effort is motivated exactly by this concern.    (011)

>: you may as well just hand everything
>back to the programmers of old and let them grok everything using
>variables in their preferred programming language...    (012)

What, you mean the way that 90% of the actual 
working code on the planet gets written? Not a 
bad idea. (I like the phrase "programmers of 
old". I was probably one of them once. I wonder 
how code gets written in this brave new age, if 
not by programmers?)    (013)

>I'm not convinced there is yet even a partial reply to my original post
>starting this thread:
>" My frustration with many of the threads on this list (and the Summit
>list - although I admit that I'm no longer sure what goes where...) is
>that there seems to be a lot of discussion over detail - of how to model
>this, or how to present that    (014)

Details, of course. Basic questions of the nature 
of reality, the metaphysical foundations of 
discourse and the expressivity of logics would I 
suppose count as 'detail' from some perspectives.    (015)

>  - and not enough to the bigger pictures:    (016)

>who should be involved in ontology development? What qualifies them and
>how can you judge? How do you start to develop an ontology? Should you?
>How do you introduce quality control? Who decides? Where's the process
>when you need one?    (017)

These are not "bigger", they are management 
questions. I have no idea what the answers are, 
nor do I care. I have lived my life carefully 
avoiding the horrors of management. Any ontology 
managers out there able to answer this? Any 
ontology managers out there at all? Anyone want 
to even take a guess about what "quality control" 
means when applied to ontologies? (Be careful not 
to get lost in any actual details.)    (018)

Pat Hayes    (019)

>Any answers on *these* questions? ;-)
>-----Original Message-----
>From: ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
>[mailto:ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Pat Hayes
>Sent: 19 March 2007 21:04
>To: Cassidy, Patrick J.
>Cc: [ontolog-forum]
>Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] Ontology and methodology
>>My advice is to boldly go and do what makes sense in your domain....
>>It is unlikely you will run into
>>logical contradictions, and in engineering the information
>>infrastructure, aesthetics should take a second place to
>>comprehensibility and efficiency.
>+1. Should be written in pokerwork and hung over the entry door of
>every Ontology Engineering Laboratory :-)
>Pat Hayes
>IHMC           (850)434 8903 or (650)494 3973   home
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>    (020)

IHMC            (850)434 8903 or (650)494 3973   home
40 South Alcaniz St.    (850)202 4416   office
Pensacola                       (850)202 4440   fax
FL 32502                        (850)291 0667    cell
phayesAT-SIGNihmc.us       http://www.ihmc.us/users/phayes    (021)

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