Well I can tell you my experience over the last 25 years or so.
You are absolutely right that the attention span of those making decisions is 3 years (if you are lucky) whereas ontologies take decades to develop and mature. Each of the phases below is around 3 years.
The first phase is one of enthusiasm, you have found something that has the promise to solve your problem. None of the attendant issues have been revealed, which you inevitably fall foul of.
The next phase is critical. You had to cut short your grand plans, and the question was, did you do so in a way that managed to deliver benefits? If you did, and what you did was good enough, there is a chance that the next group that comes along in the same area will build on what you did. However, sometimes people are just determined to do something different. The most common problem is that what you have done is considered “too complicated” and people vow to produce something “simpler”. This of course does not work because the problem is not as simple as you would like. If you are fortunate, after several cycles you have built up enough material that it is not really possible to ignore it and start again, though you still have people trying to simplify beyond what is realistic.
In the development of ISO 15926 I can think offhand of 3 attempts to take an over simplified route and at least 2 attempts just to ignore it and start again. The attempts at simplification have eventually been brought back within the mainstream, but at considerable cost to the industry.
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From: ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of David Eddy
Sent: 30 May 2012 22:25
Subject: [ontolog-forum] How long to useful?
At the request of William Frank... a new thread,
On May 30, 2012, at 3:02 PM, William Frank wrote:
On Wed, May 30, 2012 at 2:37 PM, David Eddy <deddy@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
On May 30, 2012, at 2:22 PM, John Bottoms wrote:
7. Time, how long will it take, do the parties have that much time?
Way back in the early '80s when were we coming to the end of green fields systems (e.g. pretty much all the big, important, necessary functions had been automated at least once), it was observed that it took a minimum of 4 years to do a serious system... & most organizations simply did not have the attention span... sponsors change, markets change, technology fashion shifts, etc.
Thirty years later, things are far, far more complex—mainframe, midrange, client/server, web, Mobile coming, etc. These additional layers of complexity—each with their own twists on language, jargon, slang, organization, taxonomy, etc.—do not make for moving quickly.
Plus, management's attention span is well under 3 years. If I'm on the upward bound management track & something isn't going to punch my ticket in less than 3 years, it's not going to happen.
Just how does ontology fit into that equation?