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Re: [ontolog-forum] How not to write specifications (VISTA costs)

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Len Yabloko" <lenya@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 03 Jul 2008 16:55:09 +0000
Message-id: <W91517063203541215104109@webmail35>
Hello everyone! Being a software engineer myself I can't resist to making a few 
comments on this thread.    (01)

First let me say that the subject of 'writing specifications', even though it 
may seem accidental start of ever expanding discussions so typical for this 
forum, - is IMHO at the core of current state in software engineering. I don't 
know if ever before in history of engineering specifications played such role 
as it does now in software. Was any piece of engineering ever built so freely , 
'creatively'(in a sense of interpreting needs) and to popular taste? Even such 
consumer staples as cars and computers are expected to meet certain standards. 
Not so with software!    (02)

>So the cost in current dollars while large is quite a bit less than the
>entire Apollo Program....    (03)

Apollo was a 'mission' with clear target. No one (correct me if I am wrong) had 
a liberty to adjust it for market conditions or to move that target closer and 
make it more attainable. Microsoft had created a market more than delivered a 
product. This is a different definition of 'mission accomplished'.  This is 
'social engineering' more than software engineering. But this a key to  
understanding software as phenomenon - melting of media, fashion and technology 
into a new playground for humanity, its new ecological habitat.    (04)

>How can ontologies help in improving upon the classical systems
>engineering (already proven and successful) by adding means of better
>organization and retrieval of information, perhaps approaching
>"understanding" of phenomena and processes better?    (05)

In my view ontologies can only be truly helpful if introduced as a 'ferment' 
(so to speak) into the social reactor generating software today. The analog of  
microorganisms that revolutionized chemistry and allowed mass production drugs 
by manipulating potent substances (like data we have today), shaping it into 
final form ready for consumption. Software factories of the future will use 
data as raw material and turn out 'food for thoughts'. Following the analogy - 
in oder to become a 'ferment' ontologies must be produced by the same 
ecological system, as opposed to labs (as was a case with drug production in a 
middle of last century). I know it all boils to 'bottom up vs. top down' 
approach. So the main question is how to produce ontologies 'in a wild' in your 
backyard?    (06)

Len Yabloko, Owner/CEO
Next Generation Software
www.ontospace.net    (07)

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