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[ontolog-forum] TomGrubers Ontology Clearinghouse

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>, "Tom Gruber" <gruber@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Deborah MacPherson" <debmacp@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 3 Apr 2007 14:25:13 -0400
Message-id: <48f213f30704031125r633c3932rbc957ee04cad1712@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
RE: OntologySummit2007_Survey/Response input from TomGruber    (Y5I)

If one option to address Ontology Problems (3c) in Corresponding Solutions (3d) is to create:
"- an open, well-maintained clearinghouse for ontologies and related products and services that are enabled by them."

The clearinghouse seems like a clean, idealized place made from a combination of specifications, community databases, similar philosophies and other components of functional ontologies.

However, because peoples interests and investigations are so diverse, it would probably be messy and chaotic. The most straightforward way for such a clearinghouse to be well-maintained could be "specifying the constructs for representing domains of discourse or knowledge". That way, clearinghouse contributors could easily use domains to place or register their ontology in relation to similar ontologies, products and services. Potential ontology consumers without special training or previous knowledge about all the ontologies available, could begin looking in their own domain for ontologies, products, and services most likely suited to their particular communication and computational goals.

What has me wondering is - what if it was also possible to develop "a clear binding of ontologies to products and services so that people can find the ontology based on their functional requirements, rather than the domain of discourse."?

What would hold similar functions together or create distinctions between them once they are more abstract than a domain of discourse or knowledge? How would contributors register and explain how their ontologies, products and services can be used? How would potential consumers know where to start looking by function alone? Would an ideal goal be to plug and play until you found or put together a system that works with your data and processing needs?

The other nagging question is "Please do not talk about ontology as a method. This confuses things. Ontology is never a way of doing things. It is at the very least some kind of document or knowledge representation or database. If one thinks of an ontology as a specification, then the methods used to create or apply it can be understood in terms of design or engineering methodologies."

But if functions alone could be used as way of understanding, aren't these very methods and ways of doing things necessary to express what the functions can do? If both domains and methods were removed as organizing factors of a well-designed, well-run clearinghouse, what is the clear binding "made of"?

Do goals of the clearinghouse include surprise discoveries in "semantic mashups" and streamlining similar functions regardless of their original use?

If so, what is missing from or unnecessary in current forms of specifications, knowledge representation and databases to get from the state of the art now to establishing and maintaining such an idealized place?


Deborah L. MacPherson
WDG Architecture PLLC

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