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Re: [ontolog-forum] Difference between XML and OWL

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 25 Oct 2008 10:06:57 -0400
Message-id: <49032801.2080202@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Mike,    (01)

I'm glad that you found this discussion useful.    (02)

MB> I see ontology (OWL or otherwise) as fitting into one specific
 > box in the Zachman Framework.    (03)

Actually, all 30 boxes address different aspects of ontology.
Each of the six columns focuses on the entities found in response
to one of the six types of questions:  What?  How?  Where?  Who?
When?  Why?  The answers to those questions determine what has
to be represented.    (04)

Each of the five rows focuses on the perspective from a person
that plays a different role:  planner, owner, designer, builder,
or subcontractor.  The product 6 x 5 = 30 boxes, each of which
shows one perspective by one type of person on one aspect of
an information system.    (05)

Ed criticized the Zachman framework because many people have hyped
it far beyond its usefulness.  And I agree with that criticism.
But I endorse the basic ideas behind the methodology, which can
be generalized much further:    (06)

  1. The idea of asking questions to elicit information about
     aspects of a subject domain.  This is a very old idea that
     started with Aristotle:  each of his 10 categories is an
     answer to one type of question.  For any give subject domain,
     each answer represents one significant type of entity.    (07)

  2. The idea of considering an ontology from the perspectives of
     different people who play different roles.  For example,
     consider a medical ontology with a focus on the perspectives
     of a patient, a general practitioner, a nurse, specialists in
     different medical fields, a pharmacist, an administrator...    (08)

What I like most about the Zachman framework is its emphasis on
the many different ways of viewing a system.  But my major
criticism is that it's only a beginning.  The 30 different ways
are just an inadequate approximation to infinity.    (09)

MB> What is unfortunate is that UML is so wedded to OO development
 > that it does not extend naturally into the semantic space and so
 > does not cover the whole of the first two columns.    (010)

Yes.  But that is also my criticism of the OWL approach.  It is
also very limited, and the people who promote it don't admit (or
are not aware) that it is a very highly specialized methodology.    (011)

One reason why I recommend that people consider UML, SQL, and
various approaches such as Zachman is that they shows that semantics
is involved with all aspects of meaning.  OWL is a one-size-fits-all
notation that can be useful for what it can do, but the subject is
much, much broader.    (012)

People have apologized for OWL by saying that it is just a beginning.
That's OK *provided that* somebody tells the OWL users that they are
only scratching the surface of semantics.    (013)

MB> However, [UML] is extensible.    (014)

Yes.  And the idea of bringing together multiple approaches that
had already proved their usefulness separately was its greatest
strength.    (015)

My major complaint about RDF and OWL is that they had not proved
their usefulness as de facto standards or just widely used tools
before they became integrated into the SemWeb.  That's what I
meant by saying "May God protect us from proactive standards."    (016)

John    (017)

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