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Re: [ontolog-forum] N3+, an N3-variant for units

To: edbark@xxxxxxxx, "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Joel Bender <jjb5@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 20 Mar 2009 15:44:03 -0400
Message-id: <49C3F203.7020901@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Ed,    (01)

----- groveling begins -----    (02)

> Please don't jump to such conclusions.  The same can be said of Springer 
> Verlag and Wiley and other publishers, who undoubtedly produce the 
> journals in which you hope to publish as a means of enhancing your 
> academic career.  Will you and your tenure committee happily see them 
> die as well?    (03)

Alas, I am simply a programmer, stuck in the basement of a utility plant 
next to the machine room, not an academic, nor do I have a tenure 
committee.  There is the phrase "desperate Perl hacker" which is closer 
to my lot in life, while I am not desperate most of the time, and as a 
programmer from an era predates ANSI Common LISP, I hate Perl.    (04)

Springer Verlag and Wiley have made a business for themselves, reviewing 
and publishing papers, and it is quite an achievement to have a paper 
published by them.  I don't begrudge them their business, and I would be 
sad to see them wither and die.    (05)

They are also not tax payer funded organizations, nor do they promote 
standards.    (06)

> The ISO was created some 50 years ago and is funded by a system of 
> National Body contributions and revenue from what were originally paper 
> standards publications for which ISO was the publisher and needed to 
> recoup the _proportional_ publication costs and a relatively fixed 
> administrative cost.  Like any publishing house, they protect their 
> copyrights, and their revenue stream.    (07)

This is not unlike the ASHRAE organization, with very similar funding 
models.  If you wanted to know the definitive, as published, what an 
"analog input object" is in the specification for building operation and 
control networks, you have to pay for it.    (08)

> The problem they now face is that the paper standards cost has not quite 
> gone away, because some of the standards are only gradually acquiring 
> electonic forms, and they now have an additional "relatively fixed" 
> administrative cost in managing the website.    (09)

The standards that are not yet available in electronic form still cost 
money to publish.  I understand that.  However, the standards that I 
have seen for sale have the same price for the electronic version as the 
paper version, and I haven't seen any that aren't both.  I would be 
(somewhat) surprised if there were standards that are NOT being produced 
electronically.    (010)

> To change the funding model, the member bodies would have to re-charter 
> the organization.    (011)

A tall order, but one that I feel will inevitably come.    (012)

> Other software standards bodies, e.g., W3C, OMG, OASIS, have different
> mechanisms that enable them to publish their standards on the Web, and
> they see that as a requirement for adoption in their discipline.    (013)

I would postulate that one of the reasons these organizations were 
formed was because the ISO organizational model and funding did not 
provide them with the opportunity to get their ideas across as fast and 
as inexpensively as they wanted.    (014)

> But IT software is a small fraction of the ISO domain.    (015)

So, like the New York Times, they have some breathing room.    (016)

> Automotive engineering and ... are currently suffering 
> from similar arrangements.    (017)

I concur, they are a product of their times.    (018)

> The Web is an enabler for users, but it is an economic disruptor for 
> these organizations.  And ISO itself is an international organization of 
> standards organizations.  Walk a mile in their shoes before you judge them.    (019)

I regret that I sounded harsh, I only wanted to point out that being an 
"ISO published" document only goes so far, and that people will find 
other ways to organize and publish.  I know those shoes, I've spent 15 
years in those shoes, and after I took them off I realized they were 
tired and sad.  I can't possibly throw them out, I'm too proud of the 
work that I did while in them.  Ah, maybe I'm more desperate than I care 
to admit.  :-)    (020)

> For the record, all of the ISO publications that are freely available 
> are IT standards:
>    http://standards.iso.org/ittf/PubliclyAvailableStandards    (021)

I can't recall exactly what I was looking for at the time, but it was 
closely related to a document that seemed like it would have some way of 
specifying something in a formal way with units attached, I think it was 
thread pitch.  It cost $250, which I can't justify spending Cornell's 
money or my own just to see if there was some ontological concept I 
could use.    (022)

I just enough of a conspiracy theorist to think that a reason for 
staying off the web is to protect their funding model.    (023)

> A large part of standards-making is politics and religion. ;-)
> ...
> P.S. Yes, this stuff is my job.    (024)

And it is REALLY important work, and I applaud people like you that have 
the patience and persistence to navigate these waters.  There are too 
many people these days that think "big government" is bad, but they are 
not considering NASA, NOAA, NSF, and your work at NIST ;-).    (025)

----- break from the groveling -----    (026)

More to the point of this thread, a cooperative and ontologically strong 
(whatever that means) description of the application of units to the 
pathetic and vacuous definition of rdf:value [1] is a worthwhile 
endeavor.  The URI/URL/URNs will come.    (027)

[1] <http://www.w3.org/TR/rdf-schema/#ch_value>    (028)

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