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

To: "'[ontolog-forum] '" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Rich Cooper" <rich@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 6 Jan 2009 14:02:35 -0800
Message-id: <20090106220440.35832138CC7@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Patrick Cassidy wrote:
======================= ====================== ===============
...  A full language, including
the basic vocabulary , is useful mostly for communication among agents.  To
be useful there need to be multiple agents that communicate using the
======================= ====================== ===============    (01)

In nearly every database product, there is room for multiple agents,
typically at least one on every desktop connected to the database server.
However, that is within the walls of an individual developer (or business,
or software product vendor).  The vocabulary for that implementation type is
based on the relations, views, columns and domains of the application.  All
modern DBMSs support multiple concurrent users which speak that vocabulary.    (02)

But getting multiple organizations to use the SAME vocabulary in their
agents is the issue we're discussing.  So I'm guessing, in the above, that
you mean multiple agents from different organizations, preferably those
without political cross relationships.  I don't see that happening in the
current circumstances.  It simply isn't a practical, cost effective approach
for the organizations.      (03)

Patrick Cassidy Again:
======================= ====================== ===============
But adopting a language by a natural process of accumulation of
users (from the first two) can be a very long process - it probably took
thousands of years for human languages to evolve their current ability to
describe the world.  
======================= ====================== ===============    (04)

Human language appears to have been extremely geographically local.  Only
tribes of people in contact with other tribes near them had a chance to
develop and practice common vocabularies.  As the size of tribes grew into
large volumes of people, many (not just one) common vocabularies began to
emerge.  I expect the same general description to be true of ontologies when
they begin to be generally fruitful.  At this time in 2009, only small
groups use the same ontology.  Unlike natural languages, it isn't necessary,
or even useful to have your competitors use the same vocabulary.  The best
way to change that situation is to find a very large customer with deep
pockets who will demand that all business partners use the same ontology.      (05)

Computer science standards have emerged when there are competitors, and one
customer is large, and economically equipped to demand consistent interfaces
from all partners.  Wal-Mart, for example, requires that their suppliers
interface electronically and keep the shelf inventories stocked through
automated timely shipments.  If you want to sell through Wal-Mart, this is
the only way you can do it.  But Wal-Mart is only one organization.      (06)

Wal-Mart doesn't care about the ontology of the products.  It doesn't
distinguish between baseballs and cantaloupes, televisions and chewing gums.
Only an inventory part number designates one product from another.  What
would Wal-Mart gain by having more ontological insight into its products,
stores, employees and so on?    (07)

Patrick Cassidy Again:
======================= ====================== ===============
We can do it a lot faster if we kick-start the user community by having a
large group of developers and users agree on the basic vocabulary.  It can
evolve from that point, but to evolve, anything has to first survive.
Having a starting community of over a hundred users gives the standard a
chance to survive and show its capabilities.
======================= ====================== ===============    (08)

User communities generally don't like being kick-started.  What's in it for
them?  Ontologists believe that ontologies are important, but users believe
that their organization's mission is important.  According to the theory of
constraints, organizations only focus well on one constraint at a time.  So
why would any user community refocus a major investment into ontologies?      (09)

I don't see it happening now.  The real question is what situation is needed
to make an ontology-based product highly valuable to ONE ORGANIZTION?  That
might be a likely way in which standard ontologies can become widely used.
That organization also has to have money, and a mission that is consistent
with ontological representation.  Other than organizations with critical
functions inside the US government, I don't see any organization that can
fill that role.  What is the gain they obtain through use of ontologies?    (010)

-Rich    (011)

rich AT englishlogickernel DOT COM    (012)

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