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Re: [ontolog-forum] Ontologist Aptitude Test?

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 18 Dec 2009 15:29:10 -0500
Message-id: <4B2BE616.9030300@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Joel,    (01)

JB> The rejoinder is "you can't improve what you don't measure."    (02)

That is most definitely false.  As for ontology, this forum shows
that the field itself is extremely unsettled, and there is no
consensus on what a good ontology is or how it could be measured.    (03)

JB> Those are great if you are trying to build a team, but not if you
 > are trying to solve a problem.    (04)

I was thinking of a team of people that I would hire to solve a problem.
And passing a multiple choice test gives ZERO evidence of problem
solving ability.    (05)

JB> Good or bad, wouldn't a business be interested in hiring a
 > "consultant ontologist" to solve some system design or modeling
 > problem the current team can't solve?    (06)

I certainly would not hire somebody whose primary credential was
the ability to pass a multiple-choice test.  The best criterion
is successful performance on real jobs.  Second best is an
interview with somebody in the field.  A test is almost worthless.    (07)

JB> Lots of businesses start out with a server, go through the
 > installation prompts, use it for a week, something breaks and
 > they're stuck.  So they need someone to fix it NOW.  Certification
 > says "I know what I'm doing with this system."    (08)

Not the MCP exams that Microsoft uses.  There are many very competent
people who have an MCP certificate.  But that is because they took
the exam in self defense to avoid looking worse than the idiots
whose only knowledge is the content of the MCP books.    (09)

JB> ... the design and development teams saying "we need an ontologist"
 > or he/she goes to lunch with a colleague that says "we've done so much
 > better after we hired an ontologist".    (010)

On what planet have you ever heard anybody say anything like that?    (011)

JB> What would you ask "an ontologist" during an interview?  Time
 > limit for questions and answers, 1 hour.    (012)

I would ask them the same question that Lou Gerstner asked the VPs
who reported to him when he was named the CEO of IBM.  They all
walked in with PowerPoint slides.  But Gerstner just said, "Put
that away and talk to me."  At that point the poor VPs panicked.
But Gerstner got a pretty good idea of their abilities.    (013)

JB> Has someone put together a list of common interview questions?    (014)

Gerstner's question "Talk to me" is the only one you need to start,
and anyone who knows something about the subject and about people
can take it from there.    (015)

Another good question:  "Next to yourself, who's the second best
expert on the subject."  When all the second-best pointers point
in the same direction, that's the one to hire.    (016)

Doug Lenat did use a simple test, but only to weed out the
incompetent.  He gave all prospective candidates a list of six
sentences in English, which he asked them to translate to FOL.
But this test was just to verify a minimal competence.  It
didn't produce a number that he used to rank the candidates.    (017)

John    (018)

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