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Re: [ontolog-forum] Early Browser History and the Origin of Semantic Too

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: John F Sowa <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 09 Apr 2012 23:10:15 -0400
Message-id: <4F83A497.7090903@xxxxxxxxxxx>
On 4/9/2012 10:27 AM, John Bottoms wrote:
> Even then, he did not tell me that there was an indexing of GML documents.    (01)

That was not an IBM product, and it was only developed for the use
of the IBM group that was supporting the lawyers in the antitrust
suit during the 1970s (until the case was dismissed in 1982).    (02)

I don't know the details of the system, but it was an example
of technology that could have been made into a product if anybody
had considered its potential.  At the very least, IBM could have
looked for interest among law firms.  If the IBM lawyers had found
it useful, I'm sure that it could have opened up an important
area of application.    (03)

As far as I know, nothing was done with the project after the
antitrust suit was dismissed.  There was a huge amount of such
software that was internally developed in IBM, but there was
no way to get it out of IBM:    (04)

  1. You couldn't make it into a product unless you could develop
     a business case with a solid prediction of the size of the
     market, the estimated number of sales, etc.    (05)

  2. But you couldn't give it away unless you could prove that
     it was worthless.    (06)

I had implemented a very nice parser for developing controlled
natural languages.  It was used for several internal IBM projects,
and a couple of university groups wanted to use it.  But it fell
into that gray area -- not worthless, but not worth making into
a product.    (07)

Now IBM has AlphaWorks, which can make a lot of such stuff
available for free download.  But there was no way to release
any of those things in the olden days.  IBM Research had a huge
number of goodies that could be freely shared within IBM, but
there was no way to get them released outside of IBM.    (08)

> Those of us with gray hair have each learned different lessons.
> I wish there was a way to codify them, which might make moving
> forward easier.    (09)

I have a ton of stuff (literally!) in my basement stacks.  I hope
to scan some of it in and add commentary.  Among other things,
there are some fascinating stories about FS -- that is IBM's
Future Systems of the 1970s, which sucked in most of the best
and brightest of IBM's R & D people into a project that had
serious design flaws.    (010)

The flaws in IBM's FS project were different from the kinds
of design flaws in the Semantic Web, but there were interesting
parallels and contrasts in the way the project was mismanaged.
My rantings about the SW are partly fueled by my frustrations
about the FS disaster -- the short answer is hubris by certain
people who should have known better in both the SW and the FS.    (011)

For a comic book drawn by one of my colleagues, see    (012)

    The Adventures of Task Force Tim    (013)

For an example of the more serious stuff, the intro to the comic
book has a pointer to my Memo 125 about the FS design problems.    (014)

John    (015)

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