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Re: [ontolog-forum] Truth

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: John F Sowa <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 07 Jul 2012 09:03:15 -0400
Message-id: <4FF83393.9070809@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Dear Matthew and Pat,    (01)

>Oh dear! What a tangled web we weave :-)    (02)

> True, but not by practicing to deceive. The tangle arose from a conflict
> between what one might call rival philosophies of the Web, and the need
> for a committee to produce a single product, which turned out to be the
> proverbial camel rather than horse.  But this was in 2004, and the camel
> has turned out to be quite useful in practice.    (03)

I agree -- and I put the emphasis on conflict, not practice.    (04)

Short summary:  Too many cooks spoil the pot.    (05)

Longer point:  Fred Brooks in _The Mythical Man-Month_ wrote the
classic analysis of how *not* to design a large system.  A small,
tightly-knit design group is essential for designing the core.
After the core has been designed, then you can expand the number
of people who work on the applications above the core.    (06)

Fundamental error:  Any project with the word 'semantics' in the
title must be based on logic.  Instead, the W3C thought of the SW
an extension of the WWW.  That is why they mistakenly thought that
the WWW core (Unicode, *ML markup, documents, and URIs) would
suffice for the SW core.    (07)

More general view:  The SW is a problem of distributed knowledge
representation and reasoning among an open-ended collection of
heterogeneous agents that must build on, adapt to, and interoperate
with trillions of dollars of legacy software while preserving
sufficient generality and flexibility to support anything and
everything that anyone might imagine in the future.    (08)

Hubris:  In the mid 1990s, there was 40 years of R & D on the above
issues, but the full problem is still a research area today.  Instead
of looking at what had worked, what had failed, and why, the W3C
committee claimed that their problem was so totally different from
anything else on the planet that they could ignore all the rest and
start from scratch -- with a cast of thousands voting on fundamental
design issues.    (09)

Summary: I agree with Pat that some useful technology has come from
the SW.  But I keep pointing out that 18 years have passed since
the founding lecture by Tim B-L in 1994. The useful combination
of RDF + OWL + SPARQL is far less advanced *and* usable than some
widely available AI software in the mid 1990s.    (010)

Future directions:  It's time to rethink the foundations.  Google,
for example, is doing that.  They hired R. V. Guha, the original
designer (with Tim Bray) of RDF.  But their vision treats RDF,
OWL, and SPARQL as legacy software.  I believe that we need an
open design competition to determine how to proceed from here.    (011)

John    (012)

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