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

To: Christopher Spottiswoode <cms@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Cc: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Phil Murray <pcmurray2000@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 02 Nov 2011 08:26:46 -0400
Message-id: <4EB13706.7090809@xxxxxxxxx>
Thanks, Christopher.    (01)

I look forward to developments on the Ontology Chemistry wiki.    (02)

Christopher Spottiswoode wrote:
> Phil,
> +1 on your entire approach in your 5 points below.
> Interestingly, this is how Tim Berners-Lee once put it rather neatly (in
> a now dated though still comparable context):
>> The job of classifying all human output is a never-ending one, and
>> merges with the job of creating it.
That's a great catch and a great reminder. Of course, we have to define 
"classify" and "human output" very thoughtfully.    (03)

For example, in the interview from 1996 with Tim B-L that you cited, we 
have the exchange:    (04)

 > TR: What will using the Web be like in a few years, assuming these 
developments occur?
 > BERNERS-LEE: You won't see a browser, you will see a document.    (05)

[snip]    (06)

I hope we will see much more than "documents." I hope we will also see 
forms of knowledge representation that directly support  understanding, 
memory, and creation of value.    (07)

BTW,  in the late 1980s Rob Akscyn and Don McCracken, developers of the 
pre-Web ZOG and  KMS (the Knowledge Management System) hypertext 
systems, proposed a KMS-like interface as an operating environment -- in 
effect inverting the relationship between applications and documents and 
other computer-application work products. (I edited the spec for them.)    (08)

> That was in
> no longer online but now copied here:
> http://georgenorth.net/~george/Thesis/News/www&HTMLCreator.html.
> I had approvingly quoted it in 1997, here:
> http://jeffsutherland.org/oopsla97/SpottiswoodeByndBO.html#CAUTION, and
> in a context still relevant and supporting your position.
> Likewise, I second your agreement with John's points below.
> Thank you.
> Christopher
> You had written on Friday, October 28, 2011 3:21 PM in response to John
> Sowa:
>> John --
>> John F. Sowa wrote:
>>> On 10/27/2011 3:26 PM, Phil Murray wrote:
>>>> Would it be fair to say that part of the USPTO "mess" -- exacerbated
>>>> by sheer volume of patents -- is that the meaning expressed in the
>>>> processes of research, writing, and evaluation of patents is not
>>>> formalized?
>>> Given the fact that people who are trying to demonstrate that their
>>> invention is novel, they have a strong incentive to use terminology
>>> that is different from anything in common use.
>> Absolutely true, and an excellent point. In fact, this bad habit is
>> characteristic of academia in general. A couple years ago, one of the
>> top people at the Marine Biology Lab in Woods Hole complained to me
>> that this bad habit was one of the factors limiting adoption of
>> new/novel commercial and governmental solutions emerging from his
>> field.
>>> You can try to propose some standardized terminology, but it's
>>> doubtful that inventors and patent attorneys will be eager to adopt
>>> it.
>> Again, absolutely true, and an excellent point. Such new and seemingly
>> onerous burdens would, indeed, be met with resistance by inventors and
>> patent attorneys. There's no obvious benefit, and in practice we all
>> resist even such simple tasks as tagging our own research in ways that
>> make it easy to retrieve.
>> But since we agree on those points, it's clear that I have not made my
>> assertions understood.
>> Let me try to restate my assertions in a somewhat different way,
>> addressing the requirement that we "analyze real problems":
>> 1. Better retrieval of documents and better automatic summarization of
>> documents have benefits, but those benefits are marginal compared with
>> explicit representations of of changing, day-to-day knowledge -- for
>> example, graphic maps of arguments supporting a particular economic
>> position or business choice.
>> 2. The "semantic community" has developed practices, tools, and
>> resources that are applicable to (but not sufficient to fully address)
>> such requirements. The semantic community tends to focus instead on
>> the problems of "big data" using big applications in big
>> organizations.
>> 3. The "real problem" is that we are over-reacting to the
>> superabundance of information instead of developing new ways of
>> creating value. You cannot - and do not -- act on words. You act on
>> meaning. Value is created by individuals and people working with each
>> other, not by aggregating the surface characteristics of large amounts
>> of information -- a practice which more closely resembles the complex
>> financial derivatives that caused us so much trouble recently.
>> 4. Current "mind-mapping," "idea-mapping," and "personal information
>> management" tools don't solve the "real problem" either -- in part
>> because (a) lacking a thoughtful, coherent model for the resources
>> they are used to create, they throw roadblocks in the path of
>> incremental formalization of ideas, and in part because (b) they make
>> the assumption that the seemingly simple activities of research,
>> construction and evaluation of knowledge resources, and communication
>> of that value can be performed with simple applications used by
>> individuals primarily in isolation. They cannot. These critical
>> activities require massive, well-designed applications that support
>> the process and actually reward those who use them instead of imposing
>> burdens on them.
>> 5. Our current model for creation of value needs to be tossed out. We
>> need to deconstruct what actually happens in knowledge work -- in the
>> form of making ideas explicit, evaluating those ideas, and integrating
>> those ideas into a reusable, organizational infrastructure --
>> appropriately in order to meet the goals of (a) substantively improved
>> methods of creation of value and (b) appropriate rewards for the work
>> performed. That deconstruction should redefine job roles and use
>> computer applications more appropriately.
>> I understand if members of the KR/ontology engineering community feel
>> that these goals are inappropriate or beyond the purview of that
>> community. But I think a major opportunity is being wasted.
>> Phil
>    (09)

---------------------    (010)

The Semantic Advantage
Turning Information into Assets
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Blog: http://semanticadvantage.wordpress.com
Web site: http://www.semanticadvantage.com    (012)

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