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

To: <peter@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>, "'[ontolog-forum] '" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Rich Cooper" <rich@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 11 Jan 2011 12:08:50 -0800
Message-id: <20110111200857.0C432138D1F@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>

Hi Peter,


Thanks for adding your thoughts to the discussion.  


Well written, Peter.  But the divide between <technologist/researcher> has to be bridged if ontology is EVER to be of practical use.  As you noted, that takes SMEs and Ontologists, and the two are mixing up high and low knowledge levels in the two foci, as you indicated.  But that process, however difficult and unmanageable it is, has to be endured until enough knowledge of each side is brought to either a consensus (which almost never happens) or a decree.  


Its this process of intercommunication among the many participants that is so expensive in software development as well.  Its well documented that at some point, adding people slows down the project.  At that point, it takes more labor time from team members to tutor or indoctrinate the next person than the amount of effective labor time said next person can add to the project.  


The theory behind investing in ontology (or AI, or knowledge engineering, or even software engineering …) is that the marginal investment required is less than the marginal value improvement, therefore the invested energy cascades and grows, at least at that marginal point.  If we think there is no value in ontology, it will be dropped like the semantic web, global warming, Y2K or the dot com bust. 






Rich Cooper


Rich AT EnglishLogicKernel DOT com

9 4 9 \ 5 2 5 - 5 7 1 2

From: ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Research
Sent: Tuesday, January 11, 2011 11:50 AM
To: '[ontolog-forum] '
Subject: [ontolog-forum] I ontologise, you ontologise,we all mess up... (was: Modeling a money transferring scenario,or any of a range of similar dialogues)


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

Web       www.peterfbrown.com

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Twitter   @pensivepeter

P.O. Box 49719, Los Angeles, CA 90049, USA

Tel: +1.310.694.2278



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