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Re: [ontolog-forum] doing standards [was - Re: Webby objects]

To: "[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: David Eddy <deddy@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 22 Nov 2012 12:17:00 -0500
Message-id: <D894D430-AE65-4B69-9434-B4F272C811E9@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Peter -

On Nov 22, 2012, at 10:24 AM, Peter Yim wrote:

The basic question is "Why aren't practitioners using

Because they're really, really, really HARD, aside from the fact that management has no idea what all the handwaving is about much less what any potential value might be.

Plus the little detail of there being no foundation.  So ontologies are very much ivory towers in the clouds, particularly in commercial IT.  Science/bio/pharma may very well be a different story since Mother nature has been carving the hierarchy for a few million years.  In commercial systems the concept of ordered hierarchies & languages is at best a distant fantasy.

It has been my direct, commercial experience with Fortune 500 organizations that very few (approaching none) have anything approaching something simple as "naming standards" (conventions—3 ring binders on the shelf, yes.  Enforced no.).  Obviously some systems have naming conventions, but that was typically driven by a single motivated individual & is not carried over to the next systems(s).

Please to acknowledge the scale here... a Fortune 500 scale organization will have something like 1,000 to 5,000+ IBM mainframe applications.  This is not counting client/server, web, *nix, iSeries, etc.  Pretty much every one of those applications will have uniquely opaque language.

I would argue that if the organization does not have the discipline to control its language something as pie-in-the-sky as ontologies is a castle in the sand.

The reasoning/experience is that if they're as big & important as they are without naming standards, why bother.

It is my assumption the same thinking & non-action carries over to the much more complex ontology domain.

If the ontology consultant (that's singular) could show up on Monday & create something substantive in a week or two, AND get easy-to-use & understand results into the hands of the grunts, things would likely be different.  Requiring the grunts—the data entry/programmer/analyst folks doing the work—to learn yet another collection of technical languages is not a route to adoption.

Does anything in the ontology domain deliver something that's as easy-to-use & mindlessly useful as a spellchecker?  Protege may be a wonderful product, but it's not even remotely close to being an end-user tool.

- David

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