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Re: [ontolog-forum] Webby objects

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Cc: hak@xxxxxxx
From: John F Sowa <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 20 Nov 2012 23:22:57 -0500
Message-id: <50AC5721.7080709@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Pat and Ed,    (01)

I worked on R & D projects at IBM for 30 years.  During that time, I saw
many good projects with good technical and managerial leadership that
were very successful.  But I also saw good projects that failed for
the wrong reasons -- some for political reasons, some for flawed
technical reasons, and some for very complex reasons.    (02)

I could go on for hours about the IBM issues, but I'll just say that
there was good AI research going on in IBM, but very little of it made
its way into products.  And none of it into successful products.    (03)

Meanwhile, I was always ready to complain about stupid decisions when
I saw them.  IBM's doomed Future System of the 1970s was an overly
ambitious and technically flawed project.  One of my colleagues drew
a comic book about it:    (04)

    The adventures of Task-Force Tim    (05)

I put my frustrations into Memo 125, which is not unlike some
of the email notes I write about the Semantic Web:    (06)

    http://www.jfsowa.com/computer/memo125.htm    (07)

There are many parallels between IBM's FS and the SW.  I was
enthusiastic about both at the beginning.  But there were some
bad technical decisions that pushed them in the wrong direction.    (08)

> ... you clearly have an overall vision for the SWeb, a passion for
> promoting it, and energy to spare. Why then are you haranguing *us*,
> in *this* forum? We have no influence over SWeb standards.    (09)

Actually, the exercise of writing these notes and discussing them with
the various people in Ontolog Forum has helped to clarify the ideas.    (010)

> Why aren't you proposing to the W3C to set up a working group (or
> better still, setting up the group and then proposing to the W3C that
> y'all do whatever it is that you think needs to be done)?    (011)

I have no funding or organization to set up a group.  I have never
been a member of the W3C, and I wouldn't know where to start.    (012)

> Just writing a W3C "note" (which has no normative content and so can
> be published fairly freely) would be a way to get things started.    (013)

What is the procedure for doing that?  Would anybody actively working
in the W3C pay attention to such ideas?    (014)

> It seems to me that this discussion has become a matter of religious
> tenet, and I see no reason to further defend what I thought was an
> ecumenical view.    (015)

It's not a religious tenet.  It's an emotional reaction to the
unfortunate technical decisions that pushed the SW off course.
I can see a train wreck coming, and I wish I could pull a switch
to avoid a derailment.    (016)

>> And it can be stated in controlled NLs.  A knowledge compiler can
>> translate FOL to whatever format is needed for whatever reasoning
>> engine and database is used.    (017)

> This may be theoretically true, but in practice it can be very
> difficult.    (018)

Did you read that fflogic.pdf paper?  It's only 6 pages.  Then you can
follow the references to the paper by Bill Andersen et al.  Those ideas
led them to start OntologyWorks, which was renamed HighFleet.  Bill
said that they get more business than they can handle.    (019)

I received an offline note by Hassan At-Kaci, who sent me some comments
(with permission to quote him).  He makes me sound like a moderate:    (020)

> OWL technology, IMHO, is just a fad that will die out eventually due
> to its inherent limitations. But not before having done some damage
> and lost precious time and resources. Anyone that has attempted to
> do some serious testing of it has been clearly disenchanted
> (see e.g., http://ceur-ws.org/Vol-477/invited_2.pdf). And this does not
> surprise me, having known about DL from its start and having deliberately
> shunned it for these reasons.
> At any rate, I'm afraid that much of the latest audience of the SW is
> uninformed and credulous, and the drivers of the DL fad are exploiting
> this state of affairs. Be that as it may, many, many publications and
> forums on OWL as a viable technology have proliferated and given it
> an appearance of worthiness and, worse - as you have pointed out -
> made it an exclusive W3C standard. But the proof of the pudding will
> eventually come from the field.    (021)

I am truly ecumenical.  I have no objection to anyone who finds OWL
useful.  My main suggestion is to call OWL *A* Web Ontology Language,
not *The* Web Ontology Language.  Schema.org is a good step in that
direction because it is in the common intersection of all ontology
languages.    (022)

John    (023)

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