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Re: [ontolog-forum] Semantic Web shortcomings [was Re: ANN: GoodRelation

To: "[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Christopher Spottiswoode" <cms@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 14 Aug 2008 16:38:02 +0200
Message-id: <016301c8fe1b$64afbcf0$0100a8c0@Dev>
Ron,    (01)

Thank you for this pointer:    (02)

> If you are interested in what motivates my questions and interest,
> you can visit our web site www.artifact-software.com and look at the
> SimOps section.  We are trying to answer some of these questions
> about  process units in petrochemical and other plants through
> static data presentations.    (03)

And this is why I do indeed find it interesting:    (04)

Any verbosity-archaeologist who for whatever strange reason happened 
to excavate into my years of buildup on the Web of MACK, The 
Mainstream Architecture of Common Knowledge, would easily agree with 
the following particular view of it:  [I spare you the relevant urls 
going back over 12 years, and all the earlier off-web references...]    (05)

MACK emphasizes state over interface.  That approach - if correct -
would help explain the failure (or disappointment, if you prefer...)
of many buzzword-laden would-be architectures of recent decades,
perhaps most prominently the OMG's OMA/CORBA and every SOA stack, but
also including every other "interface-inheritance" OO model.    (06)

Let us assume - as we must here, at least before that infamous "5th
instalment" appears - that a state-based model can give rise to a
comprehensive yet coherent set of principles and tools addressing
architectural criteria such as modularity, component reusability,
application interoperability, complexity-hiding, openness, privacy,
security, flexibility, migratibility, evolvability and scalability all
the way up to universal Internet level.    (07)

Then the very way of working with such an architecture would be much
closer to every presently-existing state model, starting with mere
spreadsheets and extending all the way up to would-be virtual worlds
for which the Frame Problem does become a problem.  Somewhere
inbetween there would be the managed simulations and what-ifs of
instructional software.    (08)

> I can see the potential power of ontology if it can be applied to
> this in a way that is easy to use.    (09)

The key role of Ontology in the above picture is precisely what that
5th instalment will address, and after some further instalments a
fully-integrated, event-driven, full-coverage, agile yet
industrial-strength setup will much more clearly be the eventual yet
easily-reachable outcome.    (010)

> In the case of an emergency or even a scheduled shutdown, having
> answers to these questions quickly can save lives or at a minimum,
> reduce costly downtime.    (011)

Q.E.D.  {or rather: Quid Est Demonstrandum!)
Christopher    (012)

P.S.  The rest of Architect Software may be interested in the sequel 
on MACK?    (013)

> Ron
> Christopher Spottiswoode wrote:
>> Ron, your requirement statement is wonderful in its brevity and in
>> its challenge!  Ed's assessments of major present players was also
>> admirable, for its very relevant deep and wise perspectives, but I
>> can sense your frustration.
>> If my "MACK basics" series of posts to this list seems to be
>> forgetting to do so, please remind me to return to your challenge
>> once I have built up the bigger MACK picture a bit further.  Then I
>> will show how on the forthcoming "DemocraticWeb" each one of your
>> use cases might play out in a supported yet natural way (even if I
>> have to add many qualifications to your idea of "a base ontology
>> that describes a fair amount of the universe.")
>> For that, I first need to expand a lot more on issues like what
>> MACK brings to modularity and scalability at Internet scales.  For
>> now, meanwhile, I just remind or point out that the generic
>> function of the MACK-conformant AOS for MACK-conformant
>> applications or functionality is to be the basis for a universal
>> "market vehicle" or marketplace.
>> Thank you, in great anticipation too!
>> Christopher
>> ----- Original Message ----- 
>> From: "Ron Wheeler" <rwheeler@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
>> To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
>> Sent: Wednesday, August 13, 2008 8:41 PM
>> Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] Semantic Web shortcomings [was Re:
>> ANN: GoodRelations - The Web Ontology for E-Commerce]
>>> I am not sure about the value of picking winners and losers.
>>> I think that too much focus is on words and not enough on software
>>> engineering.
>>> What I want are better tools for building applications that are
>>> based on the concepts behind the semantic web.  I would be happy
>>> if there were applications that actually could allow a SME to
>>> easily describe the relationships between things and tools that
>>> would let application developers build user friendly applications
>>> that could draw reasonable conclusions based on the relationships.
>>> "What will happen if we turn off valve 298 in unit B?" What are
>>> the procedural steps required to verify that valve 298 can be
>>> closed safely?"
>>> "What is the best insurance product that we have for a business
>>> owner with a wife and 2 kids in college?" What is the risk
>>> assessment for this farm? What would be the premium? What
>>> information is missing to complete this risk assessment?"
>>> I would like a tool that will make it easy to build simulations
>>> and serious games based on simple scenarios added to a base
>>> ontology that describes a fair amount of the universe.
>>> Ron
>>> Ed Barkmeyer wrote:
>>>> Ron Wheeler wrote:
>>>>> Software Engineering is required if you actually want anything
>>>>> functional.  Otherwise all you get is words which is what we
>>>>> mostly have now.
>>>> Absolutely.  But there is a difference between "heavy
>>>> applications" with "complex tools", that actually represent the
>>>> results of design and careful engineering, and hacking something
>>>> with a Python workbench and an RDB in a few hours.  If the market
>>>> wants cheap knockoffs, they get what they pay for.
>>>> IMO, the reason for the lack of success in the noble endeavour
>>>> that is the Semantic Web is the competing noble endeavours Google
>>>> and Wikipedia.
>>>> They are all about finding the information you need.
>>>> The Semantic Web idea is that experts annotate documents to put
>>>> their content in a perspective of the consensus knowledge in an
>>>> area.  And if what you are looking for is reliable content in any
>>>> academic discipline, this is the (long) established view of how
>>>> to get it.  The only difference is that we are trying to automate
>>>> the knowledge association and selection process.  The problem
>>>> with the Semantic Web is that we haven't yet made it easy for the
>>>> experts to do the annotation, and there is no existing critical
>>>> mass of "consensus ontologies" that defines the perspectives the
>>>> experts want to refer to.  The entry cost of doing it this way is
>>>> high.
>>>> The Google idea is that software can statistically annotate
>>>> documents according to what it actually sees in them.  The
>>>> "semantics" of the resulting linkages is "emergent", not
>>>> "designed in".  This technique makes a lot more information
>>>> accessible, because it doesn't require the experts and the
>>>> established views.  But it assumes that in academic disciplines
>>>> what is actually available will be dominated by the works of
>>>> experts and by the established views.  The actual statistical
>>>> performance does not support this.  Many or most of the links are
>>>> not very reliable, because the published information is dominated
>>>> by students, marketers, bloggers, etc., only some of whom really
>>>> are experts.  Google is very effective at indexing information of
>>>> all kinds, and the cost for everyone but the Google organization
>>>> is non-existent, but for that reason, there is a definite caveat
>>>> emptor.
>>>> The Wikipedia idea is that a lot of basic knowledge can be
>>>> gathered in a theoretically expert reference that is maintained
>>>> by a community, and the community will be dominated by the
>>>> consensus knowledge.  And that has proved to be largely true.  At
>>>> the same time, Wikipedia has "thought police" whose duty is to
>>>> eliminate articles they see as self-serving or lacking a broad
>>>> community of interest and expertise.  Quality has a social and
>>>> intellectual price.
>>>> Which of these is the right way?  All of them.  Which will
>>>> succeed? Google and Wikipedia already have established
>>>> themselves, but Wikipedia will never be as broad as some would
>>>> want, and Google will never be as reliable.  And OBTW, _all_ of
>>>> these required some serious engineering and some very heavy
>>>> software systems design.  Google, like Rome, was not built in a
>>>> day.
>>>> But the Semantic Web is suffering from another malady --
>>>> infighting.  The Semantic Web is currently an "anti-social
>>>> network".  Ontology development and document annotation is
>>>> largely funded by government-provided research money, and too
>>>> much effort is being spent on directing the flow of the water to
>>>> the favorite mill and too little on grinding the grain.  If we
>>>> really want the Semantic Web to succeed, we have to declare some
>>>> winners and some losers and get on with the work.  (See
>>>> disclaimer below. ;-))
>>>> -Ed
>>>>    (014)

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