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Re: [ontolog-forum] Webby objects (was: GoodRelations integrated with sc

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Ed Barkmeyer <edbark@xxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 14 Nov 2012 16:16:53 -0500
Message-id: <50A40A45.7090200@xxxxxxxx>

Kingsley Idehen wrote:
> Ed and other respondents,
> I prefer to look at the entity relationship semantics on the Web as 
> being akin to screen resolution fidelity. You have high and low 
> resolution. There are data spaces within the Linked Open Data cloud 
> where the fidelity or entity relationship semantics are very high and 
> discernible to humans and machines. Of course, there are enclaves where 
> the aforementioned semantic fidelity is very low. Such is the nature of 
> the Web.
>       (01)

The first question is whether and how the Web technologies in use 
support the identification of the 'entity relationship semantics' of a 
link.  The meaning of the link in Pyotr Nowara's email today was not 
clear to some of the participants on this exploder, even though it was 
embedded in English text that was presumably capable of expressing its 
exact relationship to the subject of the email.  By comparison, formal 
links in HTML documents are nothing more than short strings with 
associated URIs.  What is the relationship between the hyperlink text 
and the information body at the URI?  The problem in such links is not 
whether the linked information is faithful to the intended E-R 
semantics; the problem is in conveying the intended E-R semantics at all.    (02)

In a language like RDF, the stated semantics of the use of a URI term is 
that the term designates some concept and the URI can be dereferenced to 
some resource that facilitates our understanding of that concept.  There 
one can talk about fidelity, because the intrinsic semantics of the link 
is well-defined.  That is a major difference from an HTML hyperlink or a 
URI value of an XML attribute.    (03)

> The Web's ultimately advantage is that crowd-sourcing is intrinsic. The 
> number of subject matter experts contributing to the Linked Data Cloud 
> is growing rapidly too :-)
>       (04)

"Crowd sourcing a la Wikipedia" and "Crowd sourcing a la Google" are two 
entirely different things.  The committed experts contributing to 
Wikipedia articles work actively to suppress the committed ignoramuses.  
That doesn't prevent Wikipedia articles from being inaccurate or 
debatable or one-sided, because there are many fields in which that kind 
of information variance is typical of "accepted truth" in the trade.  It 
does prevent clear misinformation from surviving very long.  By 
comparison, Google's approach is essentially a political contest -- the 
most commonly referenced links are presented first, although Google is 
also doing some kind of credibility control.  This kind of crowd 
sourcing returns what most people accept, rather than what experts 
accept.  And it is ripe for exploitation, as Doug Foxvog pointed out:  
"Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups."    (05)

My experience in standards development has significant parallels.  There 
are development groups led by effective organizers with expert 
contributors who work together to produce something of value.  There are 
development groups led by effective organizers deliberately ignorant of 
other work who build groups with motivation but little relevant 
expertise to produce would-be standards of no real value.  And there are 
groups consisting of a few real experts and a few uneducated leaders and 
a body of lesser folk who are regularly asked to choose between the 
right way and the wrong way without having the background to be capable 
of distinguishing them.  The webby standards bodies themselves fall into 
all three categories.  So we have every reason to suppose that the 
highly linked Web will have all of those characteristics.    (06)

It seems to me (and I think this is what TBL had in mind in the treatise 
John Sowa cited) that the experts can be expected to find and recognize 
other expert work, and thus their links will be reliable and as 
well-defined as the technologies permit.  So, good information will link 
to good information, for the most part.  Bad information linked to good 
information, and bad information linked to bad information, and good 
information badly linked will be much more common, because expertise is 
a much rarer commodity than "information" on the Web.  The problem will 
always be finding the good starting points.  And, like the literature of 
certain trades, there will unfortunately be brilliant insightful 
contributions that are inadvertently suppressed because they are not 
mainstream and get few citations, and conversely, there will be 
"revolutionary" treatises that get lots of citations by being 
provocative rather than accurate.  "Even bad publicity is good", if what 
you are counting is site visits, not content value.    (07)

So I do not see the crowd-sourced linked information space being a 
significant improvement over the current situation.  The Linked Open 
Data technologies just make the linking easier; they don't improve the 
capture of the semantics of the links or the quality of the linked 
resources.  There will be valuable entities clearly related to other 
valuable entities; valuable entities somehow related to other valuable 
entities; and a large body of work in which one or the other entity is 
mostly garbage and the quality of the link is irrelevant.  And that is 
where we are now.  What we need is mechanisms for creating high-quality 
resources, mechanisms for recognizing the quality of resources, and 
mechanisms for improving the expressiveness of the links.     (08)

As near as I can tell, the current web-think is that RDF and its 
spinoffs will somehow do this for us (after only 14 years).     (09)

The alternative being promulgated by several standards bodies takes the 
general form of an "architecture", or a "framework" or a "best practice 
guideline", for what gets linked to what and how, and one can better 
understand the relationships expressed by the links if one understands 
the architecture/practice being used.  This approach is great for the 
"in-crowd" who are part of the development activity, but the resulting 
artifacts are less clear to the web tourist who enters one of these 
well-developed structures in the middle.  Some link in the resource or a 
related resource points to the architecture, and if you accidentally 
find it, you may be able to determine how you should have followed the 
links.    (010)

-Ed    (011)

Edward J. Barkmeyer                        Email: edbark@xxxxxxxx
National Institute of Standards & Technology
Systems Integration Division, Engineering Laboratory
100 Bureau Drive, Stop 8263                Tel: +1 301-975-3528
Gaithersburg, MD 20899-8263                Cel: +1 240-672-5800    (012)

"The opinions expressed above do not reflect consensus of NIST, 
 and have not been reviewed by any Government authority."    (013)

> Kingsley Idehen wrote:
>> On 11/13/12 11:12 AM, John F Sowa wrote:
>>> Bottom line:  The current SW tools and notations will survive
>>> for a while, but Schema.org is where mainstream IT is heading.
>>> John
>> But this isn't the fundamental problem.
>> The problem always boils down to webby data object representation,
>> access, and relationship semantics that scales to the Web. Once in
>> place, we have a functional global data space that accommodates
>> intensional and extensional data interaction. Basically, we end up with
>> Data as a new kind of Electricity conducted via hyperlinks.
>> The above isn't specific to any format, as you know. It has everything
>> to do with the following, functioning at Web-scale:
>> 1. Entity Relationship Model
>> 2. Entity Relationship Semantics
>> 3. Instances of Entity Relationship Graphs linked across a variety of
>> boundaries.
>> The Web as it exists is evolving into what I've outlined above at
>> frenetic pace.
>>         (014)

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