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[ontolog-forum] I ontologise, you ontologise, we all mess up... (was: Mo

To: "'[ontolog-forum] '" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Research <research@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 11 Jan 2011 11:49:31 -0800
Message-id: <BAY157-ds21E180F35C453E4399902EDA0F0@xxxxxxx>

I have two core concerns about many of the dialogues on this list and which might be worthy of discussion in the Summit:



What strikes me about many of these dialogues is the missed and mixed messages between ‘ontologists’ who don’t clearly understand certain subject matter; and subject-matter experts who don’t understand aspects of formal modelling, and both with varying degree of professionalism or amateurism.


I do not think it is the role of an ‘ontologist’, however defined, to substitute their (sometimes) limited experience of a subject domain for that of someone who knows the domain; but should rather be to offer approaches, methods, and tools to help everyone model that domain.


Likewise, I do not think it is the role of a subject matter expert (again, however defined) to substitute their often limited modelling skills for that of someone who knows what ontology modelling is about and how to do it well.



I remain baffled by the terms (and the presumed concepts behind them – which are *not* clear at all) of ‘ontology engineer’ and ‘ontology engineering’. I do not think that one can ‘engineer’ an ontology any more than one can engineer a meeting: one can bring skills, methods and tools to the meeting (as Chair of a meeting for example) and can make sometimes significant progress even in ignorance of the subject of the meeting – if the purpose of the role of Chair is to help the meeting to come to some conclusion. However, once a Chair starts to pronounce on matters and get involved in the substance of a meeting, those skills and methods become overshadowed by their ignorance or partisanship.


I fear that similar processes abound in many discussions on this list – initial helpful hands in modelling questions degenerate into generalised and often not very informed discussions around particular concepts.

I look primarily to this list and forum, for discussions around modelling theory, ideas, methods and tools; sometimes for enlightenment about edge cases in definition of core terms or new thinking around the core subject of ontology; With all the respect for the professionals on the list, I am not likely to ask here for advice about which are the ‘correct’ concepts to use in my business or whether I have defined them ‘correctly’, any more than I would ask a librarian whether I will like a particular book!


Best regards, and a Happy New Year to all,



Peter F Brown

Independent Consultant

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Transforming our Relationships with Information Technologies

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Tel: +1.310.694.2278



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