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Re: [ontolog-forum] Some Grand Challenge proposal ironies

To: "steve.ray@xxxxxxxxxx" <steve.ray@xxxxxxxxxx>, "[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Cory Casanave <cory-c@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 26 Oct 2011 17:03:27 -0400
Message-id: <B958E6B1BCD5114789747469E80A8762A93DC1EBA6@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
An area of interest to me and many of our clients is solving the information 
federation problem.  The problem needs no introduction to the mainstream I.T. 
community as problems associated with information federation cost lives, 
productivity and billions of dollars a year. They may call it the "data 
problem", data integration, "master data", application integration or a few 
other names - but the problem remains the same, understanding and using data 
from independently conceived resources together.  Often this involves using 
data for purposes outside of its original design intent.    (01)

While this is well established as a use-case for Ontologies there are certainly 
other use cases as well.  The concerns of information federation are not the 
same as the concerns of these other ontology use cases (such as proof) and this 
may result in differences in ontological approach, languages, tooling and even 
theories.  Federated data is inherently distributed, uncoordinated, messy and 
conflicting - yet there is value in leveraging these disparate data resources 
in a more unified way.  It is not always clear how "neat" solutions work in 
this unstructured world, yet the very "scruffy" solutions seem to be 
insufficient. Discussions of this problem that involve, for example, the OWL, 
Linked Data and Common Logic communities result in theoretical and sometimes 
religious wars that can and have frightened potential consumers of the 
technology away.    (02)

A position of the community on this question could help the application of 
ontologies, ontological tooling and ontological approaches to this important 
problem.    (03)

Cory Casanave    (04)

-----Original Message-----
From: ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 
[mailto:ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Steve Ray
Sent: Tuesday, October 25, 2011 1:34 AM
To: '[ontolog-forum] '
Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] Some Grand Challenge proposal ironies    (05)

I'm a little concerned that this Ontology Chemistry theme is more of a grand 
project/product proposal rather than a topic for consensus and articulation of 
a position on the part of the ontology community, which is the nature of the 
Ontology Summit.    (06)

Steven R. Ray, Ph.D.
Distinguished Research Fellow
Carnegie Mellon University
NASA Research Park
Building 23 (MS 23-11)
P.O. Box 1
Moffett Field, CA 94305-0001
Email:    steve.ray@xxxxxxxxxx
Phone: (650) 587-3780
Cell:      (202) 316-6481    (07)

-----Original Message-----
From: ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
[mailto:ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Christopher 
Sent: Friday, October 21, 2011 11:37 AM
To: [ontolog-forum]
Subject: [ontolog-forum] Some Grand Challenge proposal ironies    (08)

All,    (09)

Here are the first questions I imagined as your very valid responses to my post 
introducing the notion of "Ontology Chemistry" as the basis of a Grand 
Challenge that I am asserting will revolutionize Software Engineering (SE).
(That post is now archived at
http://ontolog.cim3.net/forum/ontolog-forum/2011-10/msg00088.html .)    (010)

Q1:  On the wiki at
http://ontolog.cim3.net/cgi-bin/wiki.pl?OntologySummit/Suggestions the target 
you propose for a Grand Challenge is a bootstrap for an intended new ecosystem. 
 Presumably that involves producing a programmed product?    (011)

A:  Yes indeed, that's the basic starter platform.  It's that initial or seed 
"Application Operating System" (or AOS) I've already introduced on this forum 
at odd times.    (012)

Q2:  But why make a Grand Challenge of what is normally an in-house product 
development?  (It even seems to have started out as one?)    (013)

A:  (Yes it did, and I've already done some significant C coding for it in a
win32 environment.)  The Challenge answer starts on slide 21 of the X Prize 
presentation referred to on the Ontolog page you've just cited.
These are the first questions for anyone trying to design a Grand
Challenge:    (014)

> Have you targeted a problem where a market failure exists?
> Where the normal forces of capitalism will not solve the problem?
> Does your prize address the underlying market failure?    (015)

Q3:  So the "market failure" you're addressing here is your own?    (016)

A:  Though you realize that's not really what they had in mind, yes, that is 
partly the case.  Sure.  But my failure so far has not been in the conception 
of the product or its market.  (Far from it!  To a remarkable degree there has 
for several decades been an ever greater convergence of many current trends 
with the course I've long been embarked on.)  No, my failure has primarily been 
in not having been able to sell the still productless idea to colleagues as 
possible collaborators, despite having tried on the web from time to time since 
1996.    (017)

But that failure is for quite objective reasons too. Anybody can relate to the 
suggestion that one notion can be said to underlie the need side of the 
universal market I claim to be addressing:  complexity.
Complexity and our continual disasters as we fail to handle it appropriately.  
Surely we can better broach and deal with the given complexity of reality?  
There's no need to wax all philosophical about it either, because it's commonly 
a very real and pressing problem in our everyday social and individual lives, 
as it is in our SE domain.
"Complexity" was even the title of Chapter 1 of the 1994 book, Object Oriented 
Analysis and Design with Applications, by Grady Booch of the Three Amigos 
behind UML.  But naming the problem is not solving it.    (018)

So it is probably rather misguidedly that I have long tried to describe the 
objective of the proposed product as "to help people simplify
complexity together".   Depending on whom I'm talking to, it has
unfailingly fallen flat and - I imagine - been generally dismissed as either 
useless clichi or abstract mystification.    (019)

In such ways I have been trying rather ham-handedly for some years to find 
others to join in on the project. But after all it's no surprise:
that elephant seems so gigantic, the basic reality is so horrendous, so any 
project facing up to it has to be deemed incredible, tantamount to "boiling the 
ocean", probably delusional, and at least "impractical for us".  Lesser 
obstacles have been NIH, and my still too idiosyncratic depictions of the 
concept and project.    (020)

More interestingly, there's also a rather fundamental and inescapable bug in 
the whole notion (though we'll be accepting it as an important feature of the 
proposed new scene too): evolution in general suboptimizes with merely stepwise 
improvements.  And here I am, proposing that we try to leap that canyon?    (021)

Q4:  So the idea of a Grand Challenge is to dare to leap the Grand Canyon?    (022)

You could put it that way.    (023)

Q5.  But then surely it is indeed delusional to try?    (024)

It would seem so.  So my next posts will be immeasurably more positive.
The "phenomenon of knowledge" throughout our past shows us how we might in 
future more confidently and appropriately grasp the nettle of complexity.    (025)

Widespread present SE market failures also provide useful perspectives, as well 
as opportunities for leapfrogging many serious obstacles in the present 
Internet-based SE ecosystems.    (026)

All that background will be handy for an enumeration of many possible arguments 
to use when approaching potential funders.    (027)

Then with such bogeymen less feared, we can start getting down to the relevant 
detail of the proposed new architecture and AOS.  More detailed and appealing 
outlines of the suggested Grand Challenge will emerge.    (028)

Christopher    (029)

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