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Re: [ontolog-forum] Ontology vs OWL implementation

To: Pat Hayes <phayes@xxxxxxx>
Cc: "[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Bill Andersen <andersen@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 1 May 2008 18:51:25 -0400
Message-id: <CB2092DE-0340-42E4-82EE-23BB8657CDFC@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>

On May 1, 2008, at 18:15 , Pat Hayes wrote:    (01)

>> I don't see anything else (but I'm willing to be convinced).   
>> Proceeding from the assumption there is nothing else, I say who  
>> cares?  All of the energy poured into the Semantic Web concept has  
>> all been based on an unsubstantiated hypothesis that somehow,  
>> coherence will emerge from little pieces of web-exchangeable logic  
>> floating around, the net effect of which will be measurably better  
>> than what IT has achieved in the 45 years preceding the Semantic Web.
> Oh hell, another troglodyte semantic-web basher.    (02)

Troglodyte?  That's a bit over the top, don't you think?    (03)

Just for the record, I'm a skeptic, not a "basher", and not of the  
Semantic Web, but of the particular vision for it embodied in the  
hypothesis in question.  This has nothing to do with the web-friendly  
mechanisms I mentioned, but with the popular vision for construction  
of the ontologies that will be exchanged using those mechanisms.  I'll  
place my bet now -- the million monkeys approach won't work.  It  
hasn't worked in the data modeling world.  It hasn't worked in the  
software engineering world.  And it won't work here.  If there is  
cause to believe it will (I don't see RSS and FOAF as evidence) please  
point me in the right direction -- what am I missing?  If there is  
cause to believe that "ontology" in this sense is any different than  
data modeling, please let me know.  You buy me a beer if I'm right and  
I'll buy you one if I'm wrong.    (04)

And I didn't say a thing about DL, which is a fine tool, whatever the  
reasons for its development.  What I am against is the uncritical lens  
through which practically anything having to do with the SW is viewed  
by a broad community.  That the words "ontology" and "semantics" have,  
in the IT world, become synonymous with SW are evidence of this - as  
the hype is far out of proportion with the results.    (05)

And hype can be dangerous.  I talked at FOIS in 2001 about the  
possibility of an "ontology winter".  I think we may still be in for  
one.  One piece of evidence which I didn't have in 2001 is this:    (06)

        http://www.google.com/trends?q=ontology    (07)

(Fewer people seem to care about "ontology" at Christmas time.  Never  
noticed that before.)    (08)

What happens if winter comes?  To academic researchers nothing - they  
move on to the next fad, just as a big chunk of 80s-90s AI crowd have  
retreaded themselves as "ontologists".  To a company like mine - a lot  
happens.  We morph or lose our livelihood.    (09)

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