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

To: Joel Bender <jjb5@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Cc: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Ed Barkmeyer <edbark@xxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 20 Mar 2009 16:27:11 -0400
Message-id: <49C3FC1F.7060508@xxxxxxxx>
Joel,    (01)

you wrote:    (02)

> 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.    (03)

Apologies for the misclassification.  I saw cornell.edu, considered the 
nature of this exploder, and leapt to an erroneous conclusion.  Based on 
the concerns of the project you described, I would upgrade your job 
classification from "desperate Perl hacker" to "practicing knowledge 
engineer", not that the pay or office space is any better. ;-)    (04)

<snip...>    (05)

I wrote:
>> 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.    (06)

Joel wrote:
> 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.    (07)

Those are two of the reasons commonly given:
  - a more streamlined mechanism for development and formal adoption,
  - open publication of the standards, to accelerate implementation.    (08)

There is a 3rd reason which is less advertised:
  - control by an oligarchy of large software firms    (09)

And we won't mention the pursuit of ideals, fame, income and power (in 
some order) by certain individuals. ;-)    (010)

Interestingly, only the open publication (and the last) has proved to be 
within the competence of the organizations.  Development only happens 
fast when you come in the door with the chicken instead of the egg, and 
no one comes in the door with a turkey at the same time.    (011)

> 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.    (012)

I'll drink to that!  But the development of an "ontologically strong 
description of the application of units" has proved to be a difficult 
task, both technically and politically.  One of my NIST colleagues has 
been actively involved in that process since 2005, and you have already 
heard from one or two of the numerous competing efforts, most of which 
are academic (whether in name or not).  The viewpoints of scientists and 
business users in this area, for example, are very different.  And just 
sorting out what the VIM people meant by some of their precepts is an 
exercise in the extraction of formally representable knowledge from 
domain experts.    (013)

-Ed    (014)

Edward J. Barkmeyer                        Email: edbark@xxxxxxxx
National Institute of Standards & Technology
Manufacturing Systems Integration Division
100 Bureau Drive, Stop 8263                Tel: +1 301-975-3528
Gaithersburg, MD 20899-8263                FAX: +1 301-975-4694    (015)

"The opinions expressed above do not reflect consensus of NIST,
  and have not been reviewed by any Government authority."    (016)

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