[Top] [All Lists]

Re: [ontolog-forum] Is there something I missed?

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 02 Feb 2009 03:29:31 -0500
Message-id: <4986AEEB.9040703@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Pat,    (01)

I worked at IBM for 30 years.  And during that time, there were some
great IBM products that I was proud of, some good tries that might
have been better, and some very unfortunate blunders by managers
who made technical decisions for reasons very similar to ones that
appear every day in the Dilbert cartoon series.    (02)

During my IBM career, I had a fair amount of success, but I could
have done better, if it weren't for my habit of asking what some
people call "career killing questions" -- in other words, questions
that need to be asked, but ones that "prudent" individuals would
avoid.  I am very sensitive to such issues, and I honestly believe
it is *essential* for people to ask those questions.  If nobody
else will do it, I will.    (03)

PH> I point this out not in a spirit of criticism but only to provide
 > some reassurance to those who might find SW technology of interest.
 > As on a number of other topics, John's views are both idiosyncratic
 > and very starkly stated, admitting of very little discussion or
 > debate.    (04)

Several points:    (05)

  1. I have no bias against the Semantic Web, and I would love to see
     it or something with similar goals succeed.  But I definitely do
     not want to reassure people about the current technology.  To let
     engineers feel satisfied with what they have achieved is a recipe
     for obsolescence.  (That's something I learned at IBM.)    (06)

  2. Instead of the word 'idiosyncratic', it is more appropriate to
     use the IBM term 'counterstrategic'.  Unfortunately, the only
     strategic design document for the Semantic Web was that layer
     cake that showed syntax as the foundation for semantics.    (07)

  3. I am happy to state my positions starkly, but I am always happy to
     discuss or debate them.  When anyone points out a technical error,
     I immediately acknowledge it.  And I believe that it's essential
     for people who see (or even think they see) serious technical
     lapses in some strategy to open a lively debate about it.    (08)

PH> I am not particularly fond of OWL myself, but to attribute all
 > uses of it to pointy-haired bosses who have drunk the kool-aid is
 > misleading, and indeed something of an insult to a large number
 > of very smart people of my acquaintance.    (09)

As I mentioned to Alex, I have no objection to using RDF and OWL
when they are useful for some application.  (At VivoMind, we
happily accept them when useful and map them to Prolog -- as Mitre
and many other groups do.)  But Alex said that he was *mandated*
to use RDF and OWL as a replacement for a relational database.
That approach has led to disaster, for reasons that I outlined
in my previous note.  I cannot make that point too *starkly* .    (010)

And I also have a high regard for many of the W3C people who I
agree are very intelligent.  But some of the greatest successes
and some of the worst disasters have occurred when some intelligent
person sold an idea to a powerful manager who was in a position
to make it happen.    (011)

To distinguish the potential successes from the potential disasters,
it's essential for people to ask the embarrassing questions.  Our
previous president, for example, did not want embarrassing questions.    (012)

John    (013)

Message Archives: http://ontolog.cim3.net/forum/ontolog-forum/  
Config Subscr: http://ontolog.cim3.net/mailman/listinfo/ontolog-forum/  
Unsubscribe: mailto:ontolog-forum-leave@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Shared Files: http://ontolog.cim3.net/file/
Community Wiki: http://ontolog.cim3.net/wiki/ 
To join: http://ontolog.cim3.net/cgi-bin/wiki.pl?WikiHomePage#nid1J
To Post: mailto:ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx    (014)

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>