I am not suggesting that we should build a full OR. I believe that there
is a project currently underway. I hope that the functional requirements
that are outlined below will be considered in that process. (01)
In the interim, there seems to be a need for something a lot less
powerful that will none the less encourage:
a) the adoption of ontologies for practical applications by making it
easier for system architects to find compatible sets of ontologies as
b) reduce the proliferation of redundant ontologies
c) encourage healthy and positive discussion about how ontologies could
be improved or harmonized.
d) provide a place where the designers of the OR can find ontologies for
testing and for understanding what information application designers
find most useful. (02)
Currently, I am not aware of any place where I could go to find a
starting set of ontologies with any kind of community commentary that
would let me gauge the benefits or limitations of choosing one set over
In a wiki environment, it would be up to the people "interested" in a
particular ontology to keep its links up to date and to add release
notes if new versions become available. There is no guarantee that this
will happen but if someone notices a problem, they can easily fix it so
the next person does not have to go chasing around for it.
It works for Wikipedia. If you have added a link to Wikipedia for your
site, you should know that you have to fix the Wikipedia entries if you
move stuff. If you find a dead link and you know the correct link, you
should change the Wikipedia entry. (04)
John F. Sowa wrote:
> John G, Elisa, Ron,
> JG> I ask because I'm not sure why this group is devoting time
> > discussing design of a system, when the interested parties
> > might instead agree on basic goals, pick a system, and start
> > work? Or else I am missing something.
> The critical issue is to *relate* different ontologies or the
> modules from which ontologies can be built to one another and
> to provide a systematic framework for evaluating them. There
> are many different ontologies that people can pick, but it is
> desirable to have a framework for showing how they are related.
> It is also necessary to include reviews, evaluations, and
> comments by actual users of any ontology.
> EK> ... we have customers who want to ensure that certain
> > ontologies (even "open source" ontologies) that they elect to
> > depend on are developed and managed in processes similar to
> > those of typical standards bodies...
> > The more important issue I think is one of stewardship --
> > irrespective of where ontologies "reside" from a linked data
> > perspective, one would hope that there is a community of interest
> > that is responsible for evolving and managing that ontology in
> > a way that others can depend on.
> That is essential for anything that businesses are going to
> adopt for any mission critical applications.
> For relating ontologies and modules, there is no need to "design"
> a system, since there is (and always has been) a natural system
> for relating theories: it's called the Lindenbaum lattice, which
> shows how theories are related to one another as specializations,
> generalizations, or siblings.
> Whenever two or more modules are combined to form a larger theory,
> the result is always a common specialization of the starting modules.
> Any deletion of an axiom from a theory makes it more generalized;
> any addition of a nonredundant axiom makes it more specialized.
> For a brief summary of the lattice of theories and its application,
> see Sections 2, 3, and 4 of the following paper:
> Since the complete lattice of all conceivable theories is infinite,
> there are many more than anyone would ever document or implement.
> Therefore, I suggest the term 'hierarchy of theories' for those
> that have been documented in the registry.
> As far as storing the theories, we need something more than
> a list of links to ontologies scattered across the WWW:
> 1. Links to web sites have a notoriously short lifetime, and the
> owners of any given site tend to change or move the contents
> of any page at unpredictable, usually inconvenient times.
> Furthermore, the reviews and evaluations should be linked
> to and from the ontologies.
> 2. We need policies for version control, reviewing, evaluating,
> testing, relating, and commenting on ontologies. The policies
> should also standardize the required metadata for each
> contributed ontology, the licensing information, etc.
> 3. The metadata, comments, reviews, and evaluations should be
> linked to and from the ontologies, but controls are needed
> to prevent unauthorized modification or deletion of anything.
> 4. The repository may be virtual, but the methods of version
> control should ensure that all previous versions of any
> contributed ontology (and metadata) are available under
> their original URIs, independently of where they may be
> physically stored.
> RW> If someone already has an open repository where the metadata
> > about an ontology can be uploaded by anyone who wants to and the
> > community can post comments and create links between ontologies,
> > then lets all support that.
> There are many good resources available on the WWW, but I am not
> aware of anything that comes close to meeting the above criteria
> for maintaining, evaluating, relating, and organizing an open-ended
> and growing collection of ontologies. If anyone knows of any such
> things, please let us know.
> John Sowa
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