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Re: [ontolog-forum] Ontologist Aptitude Test?

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 05 Jan 2010 14:55:09 -0500
Message-id: <4B43991D.8010008@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Dear Matthew and Ravi,    (01)

I agree that some estimate of the ROI on any kind of investment
is important.    (02)

MW> Whilst I do not think you should attempt to justify blue skies
 > research, I think there are things you can do to work out if
 > industrial, or applied research is worthwhile, based around
 > the reduction in risk of decisions that you make based on the
 > results of the research.    (03)

I agree that some estimate is important.  But the pointy-haired boss
always demands some very precise numbers, and he'll get it.  But
because he is so insistent on getting precise numbers, he won't be
told the truth:  those numbers are wild guesses that are more often
than not based on hope rather than reality.    (04)

I have even heard people admit that the numbers they generated were
lies.  I told them that I strongly doubted that the project could
succeed on the dates they promised.  The agreed with me, but they
admitted that if they told the truth, the project would never be
funded.    (05)

As it turned out, the project was funded, and it failed.  And the
worst result was the many worthy projects that were much more
realistic were also canceled.  For the record, the project was
IBM's attempt at a Great Leap Forward in the early 1970s, which
was called FS (for Future Systems).  Following is the comic book
that described some of its effects:    (06)

    The Adventures of Task Force Tim    (07)

And following is a memo I wrote during the dying days of the project:    (08)

    IBM's Future System of the Past    (09)

 > Ultimately it is the multiple-language-ontologies that will help
 > create global-connectedness and hopefully good results. Being
 > siloed in one language leaves out millions of others who expand
 > our knowledge base from other cultures.    (010)

I agree that communication is important.  But it's not easy to predict
which projects and products will successfully aid communication.    (011)

As an example, back in 1995 Microsoft was pouring multimillions into
an encyclopedia project called Encarta.  At the same time, a few
unknown individuals were starting a free encyclopedia to be written
by volunteers.  Guess which one won.    (012)

John    (013)

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