[Top] [All Lists]

Re: [ontolog-forum] Webby objects

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: Kingsley Idehen <kidehen@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 15 Nov 2012 11:56:29 -0500
Message-id: <50A51EBD.7030607@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
On 11/15/12 10:08 AM, John F Sowa wrote:
Kingsley, Ed, Ron,

This subject line focuses on important issues that often get lost:
What is a web object?  How is it defined?  Can we trust it?

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.
That's a good start toward an answer.  Another answer that I like
addresses four key words that Tim Berners-Lee used repeatedly in
his DAML proposal of February 2000:

    Diversity, heterogeneity, interoperability, and trust

My criticisms about what happened to the Semantic Web come back
to the drastically impoverished DAML final report of 2006, which
did not mention any of those words.

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.
The first question is whether and how the Web technologies in use
support the identification of the 'entity relationship semantics' of
a link...  What is the relationship between the hyperlink text and the
information body at the URI?
Yes.  The ability to specify what is at the pointy end of a URI is the
single most important feature that the SW added to the WWW.  Nobody
disagrees with that.  But there are many further issues about how
to specify that information.  And none of those specifications matter
if we can't *trust* them to be reliable.

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.
Unfortunately, RDF uses untyped triples of URIs.  You need to add more
triples to specify what each of those URIs points to.  That's where
RDFS comes in with a small set of agreed tags.  An even better notation
would used typed triples, such as

    {T1:V1, T2:V2, T3:V3}

This could be translated to RDF, but it would expand to five triples.
So the type labels often get lost along the way.

"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.
... 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 is the issue of trust, which Tim said had to be addressed early
in the DAML project.  Unfortunately, the final DAML report ignored it.

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.
That's a good summary of the kinds of things that can happen.
 From what I read in the published reports about the SW and heard
from some people who were active participants is that the SW is
yet another example of too many cooks who spoiled the pot.

The "real experts" had major disagreements among themselves while
the "lesser folk" were watching without understanding the issues.
Tim B-L was the principal investigator, and it is unfortunate that
he was unable to exercise more control.  The winning faction is
the one that insinuated that dreaded word 'decidability'.

Tim wisely omitted 'decidability' from the final DAML report, but
it has been used as an axe to destroy many good ideas.  In particular,
you can't prove decidability for any system that supports diversity,
heterogeneity, and interoperability among diverse systems.  The
question of whether trust can be defined in a decidable way is
unclear -- but trust also got axed.

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.
Tim was much more explicit than that.  He said that digital signatures
were essential, and that some kind of access control was needed.  He
also used the term 'authority'.  The initial proposal was vague in the
details, but Tim said that the issue had to be addressed "early".  But
the final DAML report ignored trust.

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.
I agree.  Scaling the technology to billions of triples doesn't help
if you have no way of knowing how those triples were derived, by whom,
from what sources, for what reasons.

Tim mentioned the Haystack project, which was being developed in
parallel with the DAML project.  Following is a very brief summary:


The goal was to find a needle (desired information) in a haystack.
It produced a Personal Information Manager (PIM) that can still
be downloaded (although it's now rather dated).  Tim divided his
time between DAML, Haystack, and the W3C.  The four most important
terms in the DAML project proposal got lost somewhere in between.

Message Archives: http://ontolog.cim3.net/forum/ontolog-forum/  
Config Subscr: http://ontolog.cim3.net/mailman/listinfo/ontolog-forum/  
Unsubscribe: mailto:ontolog-forum-leave@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Shared Files: http://ontolog.cim3.net/file/
Community Wiki: http://ontolog.cim3.net/wiki/ 
To join: http://ontolog.cim3.net/cgi-bin/wiki.pl?WikiHomePage#nid1J


We have a Read-Write web effort thta's been underway for a while now. This effort includes:

1. verifiable identity -- we use the term WebID for a URI that denotes an entity in such way that when resolved you receive a structured profile document
2. authentication protocol -- use of TLS to determine to prove that an identity possesses a public and private keypair via entity relationship semantics in the profile document i.e., one can test for "mirrored claims" across a locally stored X.509 certificate and a publicly accessible profile document
3. access control lists and policies -- the ability to further exploit entity relationship semantics as part of resource access authorization ; this is based on a resource access control ontology and HTTP response headers.


1. http://bit.ly/S9eMPa -- constraining Web resource access to a group
2. http:// http://bit.ly/M7hd4T -- protecting a SPARQL endpoint using social entity relationship semantics  .



Kingsley Idehen	      
Founder & CEO 
OpenLink Software     
Company Web: http://www.openlinksw.com
Personal Weblog: http://www.openlinksw.com/blog/~kidehen
Twitter/Identi.ca handle: @kidehen
Google+ Profile: https://plus.google.com/112399767740508618350/about
LinkedIn Profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/kidehen

Attachment: smime.p7s
Description: S/MIME Cryptographic Signature

Message Archives: http://ontolog.cim3.net/forum/ontolog-forum/  
Config Subscr: http://ontolog.cim3.net/mailman/listinfo/ontolog-forum/  
Unsubscribe: mailto:ontolog-forum-leave@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Shared Files: http://ontolog.cim3.net/file/
Community Wiki: http://ontolog.cim3.net/wiki/ 
To join: http://ontolog.cim3.net/cgi-bin/wiki.pl?WikiHomePage#nid1J    (01)

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>