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Re: [ontolog-forum] Fwd: [New post] The Newest from SOA: The SOA Ontolog

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 27 Dec 2010 10:30:32 -0500
Message-id: <4D18B118.3010406@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Doug, Segun, and Anders,    (01)

> Before a professional engineer of any other stripe is allowed
> to promote herself as an engineer s/he has to be certified as
> qualified to do so.  Without a similar rigorous certification
> process, anyone could hang out a shingle as an "ontological engineer".
> Perhaps some body should design such a certification process and
> provide certificates to those who manage to pass.    (02)

Perhaps.  But ontologies are rarely developed in isolation from some
other application.  Cyc is a rare example of a huge formal ontology
that was generated independently of specific applications -- and
that business model is unlikely to be repeated on a wide scale.    (03)

> There are many persons who have found themselves creating various
> forms of Ontologies... notably people who came to it from Information
> / Data Modeling and Taxonomy development.    (04)

I agree that those people have created some very useful tools and
techniques.  Along the way, their work produced results that have
a strong overlap with ontologies.    (05)

I would also add the work by professional librarians, who have
devoted centuries of effort to classifying and relating documents,
the subjects of those documents, the kinds of documents, and the
people, places, and technology for producing them.    (06)

> In practice, the purpose of a modeling exercise often determines
> the form of the deliverable and the process used to develop it,
> it is difficult to define standards and rules because of the
> possible variants of product and processes that may exist and
> are at the same time valid given the context...    (07)

I strongly agree.  The best standards have been ones that clean up
and polish the successful de facto standards.  It's not possible
to define "proactive standards" for some body of practice until
the practitioners have explored the range of technology that has
proved to be useful for their field.    (08)

> But IMHO a document that mgmt/operational/legal people/experts
> can read, understand and practice is still high on my wish list.    (09)

That is essential.  If anybody would like to know why I have been
so critical of the Semantic Web, I suggest they look at what the
librarians have been subjected to.  See the following slides:    (010)

    http://gordondunsire.com/pubs/pres/NLSRDA.ppt    (011)

Note slides 27 to 29 for examples of the "Simple" Knowledge
Organization System (SKOS).  That is the kind of notation that
exists inside various kinds of software tools, but until the
SW came along, no system programmers ever attempted to expose
the innards to ordinary human beings.    (012)

For examples of notations that librarians like, see slides
33 to 38 of NLSRDA.ppt.  Those notations can be supported by
the current SW tools, but we need to develop technology that
supports many kinds of human- and computer-oriented notations.
See below for my recommendations.    (013)

> Is Ontology development mature enough to deserve more than
> communities of practice at this stage?
> Should we be creating a profession out of Ontology development?
> How do we position the practice within software development
> and especially the practice of Enterprise Architecture which
> itself means different things depending on who you are talking to?    (014)

Those are excellent questions.   They deserve a considerable amount
of discussion.  I would start by comparing ontology to mathematics:    (015)

Mathematics is an extremely general academic subject, which has
"mission-critical" applications by everybody from shopkeepers to
bankers to scientists and engineers.  But mathematics is so general
that nobody is ever certified as a "mathematical engineer."    (016)

Instead, the certifications are always for specialized communities
of practice.  But more discussion about such communities and their
relationships to ontology would be useful.    (017)

___________________________________________________________________    (018)

Recommendation:    (019)

In order to develop better notations, we need to "deconstruct"
the Semantic Web to determine what can and should be salvaged:    (020)

  1. URIs are good for identifying documents and other things.    (021)

  2. Namespaces are good for grouping a bunch of related long
     names in order to use shorter names.    (022)

  3. N-tuples are good for databases, and triples are a useful
     subset for many DB applications.    (023)

  4. Logic is necessary, and various subsets, including DLs and
     rules, are useful for many kinds of applications.    (024)

  5. Flexible and efficient mappings are needed to relate all
     of the above to notations, documents, and programs.    (025)

  6. There is no such thing as a notation that is ideal for
     all purposes.  The tools should emphasize the common
     semantics, while supporting any or all kinds of syntax.    (026)

Google has done that kind of deconstruction, and they developed
notations that are more readable for humans and more efficient
for computers.  Their techniques should be considered, but the
world needs non-proprietary standards that subsume and support
the Google tools, the SW tools, and other kinds of tools.    (027)

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