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Re: [ontolog-forum] the Zachman Enterprise Ontology

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 11 Oct 2011 23:09:31 -0400
Message-id: <4E9504EB.2030003@xxxxxxxxxxx>
On 10/11/2011 5:05 PM, doug foxvog wrote:
> The now standard one is "a formal, explicit specification of a shared
> conceptualization".    (01)

I would not call that a standard, nor would I recommend it.    (02)

Barry Smith and his friends have stated some very strong reasons
for *not* using it, and I sympathize with them.  My main objection
is that the word "conceptualization" is so vague that it is almost
meaningless.  It's bad form to define a word in terms of other
words that are even harder to define.    (03)

As I have said many times, if you're looking for a definition, a good
place to start is a good dictionary.  From the online Merriam-Webster:    (04)

> Definition of ONTOLOGY
> 1 : a branch of metaphysics concerned with the nature and relations
> of being
> 2 : a particular theory about the nature of being or the kinds of
> things that have existence    (05)

Definition 2 is far better than the so-called "standard".  I suggest
taking the alternative after the word 'or', simplifying it somewhat,
and adding the phrase "in some domain":    (06)

> a theory about the kinds of things that exist in some domain.    (07)

This defines the word in terms of simple, easily understood English
words, and it adds the phrase "in some domain" to indicate that
computer ontologies are specified for the domain of some application.    (08)

As for Zachman's Framework, I would say that it is more of a methodology
-- or as John Z himself says, a framework -- for defining an open-ended
number of ontologies for various application domains.    (09)

John Z and I both worked at IBM, and we often ran into one another at
the IBM Systems Research Institute.  We got to talking about our work,
and he was discussing his thoughts about extending his framework from
3 columns to 6 columns.    (010)

For defining his columns, I suggested that he take note of something
Aristotle did for his categories:  select a question word, whose answer
would be a description of that category (or column for John Z).
For the first three columns, the question words are What? (for data),
How? (for function), Where? (for network).  For the three new columns,
the words are Who? (for people), When? (for time), and Why? (for
motivation).    (011)

John does not have a formal background in logic or comp. sci., but
he did like to use diagrams.  So I started to show him how to use
conceptual graphs to represent the contents in his columns.    (012)

As a result of that discussion, we wrote a joint article, which
we published in the _IBM Systems Journal_ in 1992:    (013)

    Extending and formalizing the framework
    for information systems architecture    (014)

Note the following sentence from p. 601:    (015)

> The basic model for each column is actually a generic metamodel.
> It is generic because it is the same for each cell in the column.
> It is “meta” because it is a model of the enterprise model.    (016)

The prefix 'meta' is significant.  The Zachman Framework is not
an ontology, but a metalevel approach for defining an open-ended
number of different ontologies for many different domains.    (017)

John    (018)

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