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Re: [ontolog-forum] ISO merged ontology effort "MCO"

To: <edbark@xxxxxxxx>, "'[ontolog-forum] '" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Patrick Cassidy" <pat@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 13 Apr 2009 18:46:15 -0400
Message-id: <00f901c9bc89$a73aa670$f5aff350$@com>
I agree with the  points that Ed B has distilled from Amanda's post, and
with most of the rest of Ed's and Amanda's remarks, but with one big caveat:    (01)

>   - We need to spend our time building real ontologies that solve real
> problems
>   - We can use upper ontology concept sets where they help in
> supporting
> and elucidating the models we make.  (We tend to re-create these
> concept
> sets on our own when we need them; better is to reuse them.)
>   - We need to have good means of access to the concept sets in
> proposed
> upper ontologies, so that we can reuse them.
>   - In this way we can learn what upper ontologies and concept sets are
> most useful, and perhaps to what purposes, and upper ontologies that
> are useful will "emerge".    (02)

  The caveat is, that the process of waiting patiently while ontology
applications develop and haltingly find themselves wanting to interoperate
with others, and little by little finding commonalities that they can share,
is at best slow and I suspect will take generations to arrive at anything
like a usable common standard of meaning that is useful for widespread
accurate interoperability.  The pace thus far suggest to me that no one
participating in this list will live to see any widespread adoption of broad
cross-domain interoperability by this method.  That would be fine if there
were no costs to waiting, but there are large costs.  We not only lose the
economic efficiency derivable from data interoperability, we lose the
potential new and more powerful applications that could be developed more
rapidly by communities that can learn from each other's results because they
use a common standard of meaning.    (03)

  Rather than just settle in for a 40-year academic career watching people
try to connect on their own, a more pro-active method makes more sense to
me.  The essence of the suggestion I have made for a 100-participant
Foundation Ontology effort includes the notions that Amanda and Ed have
made: we need to build and demonstrate real ontologies that solve real
problems, and make these available to the world to learn from.  But for the
purpose of demonstrating the potential of an ontology to support
cross-domain interoperability, it will be necessary to have applications in
several domains demonstrate that they can interoperate using a common
ontology.  For that, funding for a project of adequate size to build several
ontology-driven applications and the common ontology to integrate them is
needed.  The result will be one example of how interoperability for
real-world purposes can be achieved.  It may evolve to become very widely
used, or it may be superseded by something better.  But until we have one
such common ontology and supported applications available for public
inspection and testing, we will be confined to merely speculating about what
might or might not work.  And however based in her own experience, Amanda's
projections about what might happen in the future are still speculations (as
are my own).  We need real experimental testing of hypotheses.    (04)

  That level of funding is common in many fields, and project CALO was
plenty large enough to support a study of this kind.  Project CALO,
unfortunately, did not try to build an ontology by a large consortium, but
only by a single group.  However technically capable that ontology was (and
the parts I have seen look OK, but with sparse documentation), it still will
have great difficulty finding acceptance among other potential users (does
anyone on this list use Porter's KM or CLIB?), even if the application
supported by it were publicly available.  The application is not as yet
publicly available.  This strikes me as an unfortunate lost opportunity.
But the benefits of a common Foundation Ontology are large enough to justify
many projects in the $30M price range to develop a widely usable foundation
ontology, until we get one that succeeds.    (05)

Pat    (06)

Patrick Cassidy
cell: 908-565-4053
cassidy@xxxxxxxxx    (07)

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