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Re: [ontolog-forum] Quote for the day -- KR and KM

To: "pcmurray2000@xxxxxxxxx" <pcmurray2000@xxxxxxxxx>
Cc: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Edward Barkmeyer <edward.barkmeyer@xxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 05 Jan 2011 11:41:34 -0500
Message-id: <4D249F3E.20209@xxxxxxxx>
Phil Murray wrote:
> This is actually rather humorous  -- not because it is wrong or 
> unreasonable in any way, but because this is one classic perspective 
> on "knowledge management" (KM) ... and because the majority of KMers 
> decided that [this] was not possible and/or not the right thing to do.     (01)

I plead first that my reports of what CEOs think they want are pure 
hearsay.  They are summations, or more accurately my interpretations, of 
what I have been told, either directly or by other consultants.  "... I 
only relate what was told to me by the Chinese plate."  And I was (I 
thought) re-affirming Toby's observations from another industry.    (02)

I only offered that I see some advantage in ontologies vs information 
modeling and other technologies in addressing these needs.     (03)

My experience is that KR technologies are still largely impractical for 
business applications, but precisely because, apart from the work of 
people like Martin Hepp, there is very little formalized knowledge that 
is available off-the-shelf.  As a consequence, it takes a large 
investment to get anything useful out.    (04)

Finally, I think Phil and I have only slightly different perspectives on 
the following:    (05)

I wrote:    (06)

>> The problem with delivering any of these results is tying the bell on 
>> the cat's neck.  Some team of knowledge engineers has to get down and 
>> dirty with the text resources and the individual company practitioners, 
>> and tease out and formulate all of the knowledge that is presumably 
>> resident in them.  And then the knowledge engineers have to go back to 
>> many of these resources to resolve some of the confusion and conflict.  
>> That is an expensive process for the CEO, ...    (07)

Phil wrote:
> Well, first of all, if you view the solution solely from the 
> perspective of C-level personnel (on the one hand) or 
> technologists/knowledge engineers (on the other hand) you've already 
> lost the battle.    (08)

The point I was trying to make is that there is a significant investment 
involved here, and without the commitment of upper management, that kind 
of investment simply won't be made.    (09)

> The desirable starting point is the relationship between communication 
> and work as a method of producing value, efficiencies, or improvements 
> -- *not* representing and reconciling concepts, although the latter is 
> also essential.    (010)

What Phil means, I think, is that nature of the analysis is not "what 
all do we know", but rather, "who needs to know what" in order to get 
his job done, or to do it better or differently.  I fully agree.  And 
for upper management that comes down to: what do I need to know in order 
to make good decisions about what we should and should not be doing.  I 
also believe that is the underlying concern that begot the comments I 
summarized.    (011)

Everyone agrees that analysis and engineering (knowledge and otherwise) 
is about what is relevant to the problem you are asked to solve.  The 
problem for ontology development is that you need a lot of foundation 
before you can build the relevant hut.     (012)

For example, we have multiple published ontologies for basic concepts 
like process and time, and you have to pick a pair that actually work 
together, just to be able to talk about "work".  But the pair you choose 
must also be consistent with the business unit understanding of 
"process".  Organizations do scheduled things and orchestrated things 
and event-driven things and ad hoc things and their priorities and 
performance assessments and capability assessments and value assessments 
are partly based on which of those dominates a domain of activity. As 
one colleague observed, "if I am restricted to Petri Net semantics, I 
can't capture what some of my clients do".  And that is pure 
foundational stuff -- it is largely separable from what the actual tasks 
and events are -- but it has everything to do with whether your 
reasoning engine will be able to make any sense of your operations models.    (013)

This is why KR is still relatively impractical for any large business 
undertaking.  We need to get the foundational ontologies out there, so 
that each project doesn't have to build them on the job.  And we need to 
pick and choose our targets of opportunity carefully, in order to 
establish credibility and encourage further investment.     (014)

[EU Framework Programme 7 has an objective to do this kind of thing, but 
it very much depends on finding academic/industry teams that have a 
useful solvable problem and the talent to do good reusable knowledge 
engineering in the process of solving it.  And in my experience, if any 
team actually succeeds, it will form a company for whom that foundation 
and the associated talent is its protected IP and its applicability to 
other real industry needs is its value proposition.]    (015)

-Ed    (016)

P.S. We are not allowed to have any pompous titles.  Officially, I have 
been "Computer Scientist" for 30 years, with a few meaningless 
management titles along the way.  One of my colleagues in industry 
thought his proper title would be "Corporate Engineeering Knowledge 
Repository"; another suggested "Fire Fighting Consultant".  :-)    (017)

Edward J. Barkmeyer                        Email: edbark@xxxxxxxx
National Institute of Standards & Technology
Manufacturing Systems Integration Division
100 Bureau Drive, Stop 8263                Tel: +1 301-975-3528
Gaithersburg, MD 20899-8263                Cel: +1 240-672-5800    (018)

"The opinions expressed above do not reflect consensus of NIST, 
 and have not been reviewed by any Government authority."    (019)

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