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Re: [ontolog-forum] What the difference re., Data Dictionary, Ontology,

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: John F Sowa <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 14 Feb 2014 10:50:49 -0500
Message-id: <52FE3B59.9010602@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Frank, Segun, Matthew L, and David,    (01)

> Broader artifacts are usually created or driven by those that have
> a bigger picture perspective of things, like Systems Engineers,
> Enterprise Architects, Application Architects/Designers, etc.
> Remember, data is only a small piece of a broader system and
> most Data Architects/Designers/Engineers/Database Admins/etc.
> are not trained to deal with the broader/bigger picture.    (02)

I agree.  But breadth of vision is independent of job title.
Two of my favorite philosophers -- Peirce and Wittgenstein --
were trained as and employed as engineers.  In spite of, or
perhaps because of that experience, their vision was much
broader than most "professional" philosophers.    (03)

> I have worked with colleagues who had a variety of skills across  the
> data and software divide...Different environments offer different
> levels of opportunities to obtain a multiplicity of IT experience.    (04)

Yes.  But the "big picture" group includes scientists, engineers,
philosophers, linguists, lexicographers, psychologists, historians,
economists, journalists, executives, lawyers, artists, architects,
poets, statesmen (AKA dead politicians), and any intelligent people
who have seriously thought about and written about their daily work.    (05)

> There was talk on the onto-summit list of building a metaontology--or
> ontology of ontologies. I think what is perhaps more potentially useful
> would be an ontology of data, information, knowledge; artifacts, uses,
> relations and attributes...    (06)

I agree.  The most useful standards harmonize, tidy up, and generalize
best practices and de facto standards.  The field of ontology has over
two millennia of philosophical analysis.  But the application of
ontology to computer system design is still in its *infancy*.    (07)

As one example, Cyc is the largest formal ontology on planet earth.
Cyc was founded in 1984 -- thirty years ago!  At one time or another,
it has had some of the best computer scientists, logicians, linguists, 
and domain experts as employees, consultants, advisers, or users.    (08)

Cyc has not grown as rapidly as the developers had hoped.  But any
company that has stayed in business for 30 years has been doing
something right.  In fact, Cyc is the *only* formal ontology that
has grown out of infancy into at least early childhood.    (09)

IBM's Watson is another major system that did something that few
other AI systems achieved:  beat human experts in an area that
involves ordinary language and reasoning.  In that realm, it is
still in its infancy, but it is a big, important baby.    (010)

> Totally aside from the fact that the central data dictionary simply
> doesn't exist anymore in any commercial sense, organizations are
> far too distributed today... "language control" (which includes
> at least glossary, ontology, controlled language, naming standards,
> etc.) should be an integral part of the [dictionary/repository].    (011)

Yes.  Many old-time legacy systems (AKA *successful* systems) had
more inclusive (and more readable) glossaries than the new-fangled
ontologies.  The trillions of dollars of legacy systems will keep
running for at least the next 40 years.  Any proposed standards
that ignore them are doomed to niche applications.    (012)

Summary:  Looking at the "big picture" is a great idea.  But don't
ignore the biggest things in the realm of applied ontology:  Cyc,
Watson, and the legacy systems that used informal methods.    (013)

John    (014)

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