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Re: [ontolog-forum] Next steps in using ontologies as standards

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Cc: janez.potocnik@xxxxxxxxxxxx
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 09:16:20 -0500
Message-id: <496367B4.9010600@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Azamat,    (01)

I have some concerns about such pronouncements, which sound good
on the surface:    (02)

 > I hold with Ravi that it is a great undertaking. Though to
 > become such, the initiative needs deliberate planning...
 > the Forum has time to debate and decide on a principal matter:
 > which general world model is most fitting to science, arts,
 > technology, commerce and industry, to conclude if "Standard
 > Ontology: a single malt or blended".    (03)

The standards that have proved to be the most valuable in practice
have been based on successful technologies that many independent
groups have adopted, used, developed, and extended on major
applications.  In most cases, those standards started with a
successful implementation (e.g., SQL or HTML), polished up the
rough edges, made it more systematic, and added new features.    (04)

About 20 years ago, some people working on standards got the idea
that it would be good for the standards organizations to take a
"proactive" stance in developing and promoting cleaner, more
elegant systems that take advantage of the latest theories and
practices.  But the results have been decidedly "mixed".    (05)

I once thought that "proactive standards" seemed promising,
but after observing many attempts, I have very serious doubts.
Among the problems with proactive standards is that they are
inevitably designed by committees.  The basic strength *and*
weakness of a committee is the diversity of people with
different backgrounds, views, and requirements.  That gives
them great strength in *evaluating* proposals from many
different points of view.  But it also means that committees
inevitably have "too many cooks" who "spoil the broth" when
they try to do the design.    (06)

I don't believe that any proposed system should be adopted as
a standard until *after* there has been a considerable amount
of experience in using and testing it on a wide range of
practical applications.  Instead of "deliberate planning",
we need extensive testing, comparison, and evaluation of
proposed alternatives on major applications.    (07)

John    (08)

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