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Re: [ontolog-forum] Practical onomastics...

To: "[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: David Eddy <deddy@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 21 May 2010 08:00:26 -0400
Message-id: <D1E27D60-C2C3-43EE-AD04-EB39D2C6F59F@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Jack -    (01)

On May 21, 2010, at 4:58 AM, Jack Park wrote:    (02)

> I say that as one
> who gets confused by those who think I'm the Jack Park who writes
> books about baseball.
> Jack
> who writes books about wind energy, and XML topic map, not baseball.    (03)

IF this ontological effort is going to be successful, at least two  
conditions MUST be met at minimum...    (04)

(1) the ontological complexity MUST be hidden from 99.99999% of the  
end users.  If it takes me more than maybe a half dozen keystrokes to  
find the label/name/thingy I need, I'm going to scream to turn the  
stupid ontology thing OFF!!!! because it's getting in the way.    (05)

(precisely like a car... I have a 19 year-old new driver & who has  
confessed that he has no idea what a spark plug is... & he plans to  
be a mechanical engineer)    (06)

If one must be an ontologist to use ontologies, the effort will never  
get to the stadium parking lot, much less the starting blocks.    (07)

(2) "things" (test tubes, columns in data bases, etc.) MUST have  
"good names"   (fit for purpose)    (08)

(Real world examples:  M0101 is not so good for a name these days,  
although it was serviceable 40 years ago when Fortran was a dominant  
software language, MSTR-POL-NO is a much better name for the  
insurance concept "policy number" in a COBOL program.  "Policy  
number" is an excellent name on a report or in a letter to a  
customer, but totally inadequate in a Fortran or COBOL or Java  
software program.  Try putting "Policy_Number" on a report to a  
business person or customer... good luck.)    (09)

"Good names" does not mean a requirement for unique names... think  
the 3 Cs... (1) context, (2) container, & (3) contents.   Context:  
baseball vs wind energy (someone looking for baseball will instantly  
know he's in the wrong place if wind energy is what he finds),  
container, your name (certainly not a unique string), & contents is  
the topical information of baseball vs wind energy.    (010)

In the physical world we're accustomed to having the 3 Cs fly in  
formation... grocery store, milk jug, milk.  Multiple parties (dairy  
farmer, milk processor, food inspector, store, etc.) are motivated to  
have these elements work together.  In computers, of course, we're  
nowhere close to such congruence.   I can easily put my birthdate  
into a field labeled Work Phone Number & the ontologically challenged  
database will be totally happy.    (011)

If business people, business analysts, programmers, clerks, etc. are  
forced to learn anything about ontologies in order to use same, then  
ontologies will be an utter failure since no one will use them other  
than ontologists.  (Again back to the example of the car... one needs  
to know absolutely nothing about the workings of a car to use it... a  
smidge of physics perhaps, but no more than a smidge.)    (012)

"Good names" are the labels—good, bad & ugly—that people are  
accustomed to working with.  Under the covers it's ok to have some  
unique (within the domain) identifier that reads like gibberish (e.g.  
123-45-6789... but it's highly unlikely that end users will accept  
such junk as useful labels.  Example: from the world of mainframes...  
there is an important IBM software product called CICS that we all  
depend on... that is pronounced KICKS by the British (who maintain  
the product now) and C-I-C-S by Americans.  Call it synonyms or  
whatever, it is not possible to tell Americans it's KICKS or Brits  
that its CICS.    (013)

David Eddy
deddy@xxxxxxxxxxxxx    (014)

781-455-0949    (015)

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