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Re: [ontolog-forum] RDF & RDFS (was... Is there something I missed?)

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 05 Feb 2009 11:09:18 -0500
Message-id: <498B0F2E.8060102@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Pat and Ed,    (01)

I've been traveling for the past few days and haven't had a chance
to keep up with my email.  But I just wanted to comment on the
following two remarks, which I very strongly endorse:    (02)

PH>> Although we would all like to think that we have a complete
 >> mental model all done up ready for use in our own heads, and
 >> writing axioms is just formalizing it, this isnt borne out by
 >> experience. The very act of writing down ones intuitive knowledge
 >> as formal sentences reveals aspects of your own thoughts which
 >> weren't apparent before, and also of course you rapidly find that
 >> a lot of what you know simply can't be written down properly.
 >> So the process of writing down intuition is more like a process
 >> of invention or composition - guided of course by the intuition,
 >> but one which itself alters the intuition as it is performed    (03)

EB> Absolutely!  While I can only claim limited experience in
 > ontology development (but many more years in information modeling),
 > this has been my experience in every case, and it has been the
 > experience of others that I have worked with.
 > Intuition creates mental leaps to conclusions that are largely
 > correct, but forcing the intermediate steps to be exposed refines
 > the conclusions, reveals unstated assumptions, and adds new
 > knowledge, or at least new perception or understanding.    (04)

Frances Bacon and Samuel Johnson said "Writing maketh an exact man."
That remark, which they made about writing in English, is true for
writing in any notation -- mathematics, logic, programming languages,
controlled natural languages, or any well written and edited NLs.    (05)

The level of precision in design and specification has gone down
tremendously with the ubiquitous use of PowerPoint instead of well
written reports.  Slides are useful for summarizing the main points
of a talk, but they cannot be used as a *substitute* for a complete
specification.  The term "vaporware" is synonymous with "implemented
in PowerPoint."    (06)

Re ontology and information modeling:  The task of analyzing some
subject matter as a prerequisite to developing a solution to some
problem is fundamental to every kind of engineering.  That is just
as true for ontological engineering as systems engineering, software
engineering, electrical engineering, or civil engineering.    (07)

For all those branches of engineering, a formal spec is better
than a well written English spec, which is far better than a set
of PowerPoint slides, which, for all its faults, is better than
a mental model.  On the other hand, a mental model is still
necessary, but it evolves at every step of analyzing, writing,
formalizing, and implementing.    (08)

John    (09)

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