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Re: [ontolog-forum] Ontology vs OWL implementation

To: Bill Andersen <andersen@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Cc: "[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Pat Hayes <phayes@xxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 2 May 2008 01:25:55 +0200
Message-id: <p06230921c43ffe64ff55@[]>
At 6:51 PM -0400 5/1/08, Bill Andersen wrote:
On May 1, 2008, at 18:15 , Pat Hayes wrote:
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.

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

Sorry, I should have put a smiley on that line.

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.

Which I have defended, I will admit.

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 actually don't think it is all that popular.
 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.

It hasn't ever been tried before. Ontologies aren't software, and where has it been tried in data modelling? What is new about the Web is also true for the HTML web: you can *read* the existing stuff and re-use the names (URIs, URIrefs) and structures you find there.

And it won't work here.  If there is cause to believe it will (I don't see RSS and FOAF as evidence

Why not? What would count as evidence for you?

) 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.

Maybe I don't know what you mean by 'data modelling'.

 You buy me a beer if I'm right and I'll buy you one if I'm wrong.

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.

Well, I wont disagree there has been some hype. Or maybe spin. But unfortunately (unlike AI) there has to be some salesmanship in order to get the thing started.

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.

Maybe, but I doubt it.
 One piece of evidence which I didn't have in 2001 is this:
(Fewer people seem to care about "ontology" at Christmas time.  Never noticed that before.)

Probably same is true for almost anything technical. What most struck me about this was the huge preponderance of items in Korean from Seoul.

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.

You just have to hire a good publicist :-)


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