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Re: [ontology-summit] [Quality] What means "open" in "Open Ontology Repo

To: Ontology Summit 2008 <ontology-summit@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Bill Bug <wbug@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 17 Mar 2008 13:45:48 -0400
Message-id: <3C50F390-BE1D-40EC-9B41-F060445987A4@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Hi All,

I would strongly agree with Fabian's suggestion we table some of this discussion for the meeting.

Personally, I find i - v precisely what I'd hope to get from an "open" ontology repository (OOR) [with the exception that "virtually" in 'v' may lead to a lack of clarity], but I've no intension of dragging everyone over the coals of this long thread again, as many insightful points pro & con have been thoroughly presented.  As Matthew suggests, we all bring an agenda to the table that needs must color our sense of what would truly make an OOR more a valued resource than a hindrance to gaining wider acceptance and use for the ontologies it contains.

Many thanks for the concise and clear summary, Fabian.  :-)

Bill Bug

On Mar 17, 2008, at 1:19 PM, Fabian Neuhaus wrote:

Okay, let me try to summarize. Everybody, please let me know  if  I 
misrepresented  your position.

We are discussing the scope of the OOR, thus the minimal requirements an 
ontology has to meet.

Peter Yim and Ravi Sharma  suggest the following:
(i) the ontology is based on open standards AND
(ii) an ontology that is created and maintained in a cooperative process 
that is, in principle, open to everybody who wants to participate AND
(iii) an ontology that is created and maintained in a transparent 
process AND
(iv) the ontology is accessible to all who can be identified or 
authenticated (at least Read only) AND
(v) the ontology is available under a license that includes virtually no 
restrictions on the use and distribution of the ontology.

[I assume that a standard is considered to be "open" if and only if it 
meets analogs of criteria (ii)-(v), FN]

Matthew West objects to (v).
Pat Hayes objects to (ii) and (iii).

It seems to me that this discussion won't be resolved easily. If nobody 
objects, I will put it on the list of topics to be discussed on the 
Ontological Summit during the "Quality and Gatekeeping" section.


Pat Hayes wrote:
At 12:09 AM +0000 3/15/08, <matthew.west@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:

Dear Pat,

 The first. Only the ISO has this absurd policy of
 charging cash for standards;

MW: There are others.

MW: But lets be precise about this. The problem has its
roots in ISO essentially seeing itself as a publishing house.
That at least is how it gets its income. The up side is that it
does not charge to participate in standards development. Try the
OMG charges if you want to see how much that can be, even if
their specs are free to users (or W3C for that matter).

I don't see why that matters, in the case of ontologies. The process 
that gave rise to ontology is really not of any relevance: what 
matters is the final product and the ability to use it. That is what 
we should be focused upon.

MW: Now I think that ISO is outdated in thinking like this, and
many of us are trying to persuade them to change, but that is
still the current situation.

MW: Now, in ISO TC184/SC4 we have managed to get dispensation
to make all the computer interpretable stuff, i.e. what you need
to implement the standard. So suppose someone makes their
OWL ontology available free, but then publishes a book through
a publisher (who naturally charges for it) explaining its use.
How would you see that?

If the same source published the book and the ontology, and if the 
book was the only 'manual' or documentation available, I think this 
would be close to inadmissible, and certainly bad practice. The issue 
here is not charging for the book, but withholding what should be 
part of the openly accessible ontology itself.

How would that be different from what
ISO TC 184/SC4 does.

 moreover, I would
 not say that Matthew's interpretation of 'open'
 is universally accepted. The W3C is not open in
 this sense, for example.

MW: Indeed I would certainly NOT see W3C as open. This concerned
some enough that they moved to OASIS.

But the results of the W3C process are openly available to anyone 
without any payment, which for standard adoption is surely the main 
point. Agencies pay a membership fee to join the W3C, but that makes 
sense to me: parties that are interested enough to want to influence 
a standard for commercial reasons tend to be those that can easily 
afford such membership fees. And the process is 'open' in the sense 
of being conducted in public: all the email archives, minutes of 
meetings. etc. are publicly available and archived.

Is the OOR supposed restricted to ontologies that are developed in an
open process and come with very light weight copyright
 licenses (e.g. *
*Creative Commons Attribution )?

 Certainly the latter. Lets take a stand on this.
 It does not eliminate ISO participation, but it
 does require them to make any relevant standards
 freely available. They can do this, and have done
 it in the past.

MW: Indeed, see above.

 Putting something into the OOR
 should make it automatically available for access
 and use without restriction; like the GNU
 licences, it should not permit other copyright
 restrictions to be 'passed through' its open

Or is OOR open for all ontologies that are developed in an
 open process
regardless of their copyright license?
Would the OOR be open for ontologies that are developed and
by a group of people who don't want to participate in an open process
but are willing to publish their ontology as a freely
 available resource
for the community?

 I have no problem with that part. We should
 permit ontologies that were constructed by one
 person in total privacy, or written on stone
 tablets by God, as long as they are freely
 available for public use without restriction.
 This is what 'open' means in 'open cyc', for

MW: I think the lack of an open process is a problem

Why? If someone writes a useful ontology, or one is developed by a 
small team, what possible harm can there be in making this publicly 

but I'm actually prepared to be more permissive.
For most of these issues above, I think the most
important thing is to be clear about what the
situation is. So there is a clear statement as to
- There is an open process for development
- How much do you have to pay to participate in that process?
- What is free, and what is not, and how much that is

MW: I do not suffer from the illusion that there are
no costs in developing an ontology. The only real
question is what is the business model?
- pay to join the development organization
- donate own time and resources to contribute
- sell services based on deliverables
- pay for deliverables
- ...

MW: In fact what I dislike most are the organizations
that charge for membership to participate in development.

Well, in defense of the W3C, it has managed to extract a quite 
remarkable amount of participation from me without my paying a red 
cent. On the other hand, I havn't been paid a red cent, either.


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William Bug, M.S., M.Phil.                                          email: wbug@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Ontological Engineer work: (610) 457-0443
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