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Re: [ontolog-forum] Constructs, primitives, terms

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Paul Tyson <phtyson@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 14 Mar 2012 20:25:48 -0500
Message-id: <1331774748.5876.48.camel@tristan>
On Wed, 2012-03-14 at 12:10 +0000, David Price wrote:
> On 3/13/2012 4:45 PM, John F. Sowa wrote:
> > I agree.  But many people have been told that URIs will solve their
> > problems.  I just wanted to point out that the problems require much
> > more analysis and more detailed conventions than just using URIs.
> I doubt many people have been that 'URIs will solve their problems' in 
> the sense implied by John's statement. What they've likely been told is 
> that, compared to other identification mechanisms, HTTP URIs have very 
> nice characteristics and so are a good choice in many scenarios:
> 1 - HTTP access
> 2 - globally unique
> 3 - already in use and relatively well-understood (companies Web pages, 
> XML/namespaces, etc.)
> 4 - not industry- or organization- or country-specific
> 5 - easily reused across industries, organizations and countries
> and therefore a good *URI strategy* can solve a lot of data federation 
> problems because you get it more or less 'for free' when using languages 
> such as RDF/OWL. The point is only that it *does* solve some problems 
> that other identification mechanisms do not.     (01)

I would add to David's comments that choosing to use URIs sets in motion
productive thought processes and activities that tend to converge on
useful solutions. If you adopt the linked open data dictum to assign
URIs to everything of interest in your enterprise, you come face to face
with the problem: what is of interest to my enterprise? You will begin
identifying, prioritizing, and classifying things. You probably won't
get it right the first time, but the initial cost is so low you can
iterate rapidly. You can put URIs into play immediately with a variety
of open-source semantic and non-semantic web tools. The more you use
them, the more you will drive out ambiguity, improve communication,
reinforce useful patterns, and discover new opportunities.    (02)

Contrast that with a decision to model things of interest to the
enterprise using UML/SysML, or EXPRESS in the mode of ISO 10303 or ISO
15296. Development cycles are long and costly, and uninformed by
immediate feedback. You run the risk of professional modelers valuing
model elegance over business usability, or amateur modelers creating
suboptimal models. Without expensive, rigid CASE tools your models will
be mostly ignored by developers and users.    (03)

Or contrast that with a decision to accept the ontologies provided by
your COTS enterprise software packages. If you are lucky enough, or
small enough, to be able to run your business on only one such package,
and never have to export any data, then you are golden. Otherwise you
must work out some integration strategy, and again, in general and over
the long run, an integration strategy based on externalizing the
necessary elements as URIs will be cheaper and more effective than any
other.    (04)

Nobody should believe URIs by themselves will solve all problems. But
thinking with and about URIs is a good problem-solving methodology.    (05)

--Paul    (06)

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