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

To: Ontology Summit 2008 <ontology-summit@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Pat Hayes <phayes@xxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 17 Mar 2008 13:43:40 -0500
Message-id: <p06230905c4046a852155@[]>
At 1:19 PM -0400 3/17/08, 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).

For clarification, I don't object to (ii) and (iii), but I do think that these should not be required. Insisting on any conditions on the process that gave rise to the ontology adds a considerable burden both to the cost of creating an ontology and to the task of checking its credentials, and is completely irrelevant to the users of the ontology. Very few, if any, extant published ontologies fully meet conditions (ii) and (iii) above. Ontologies are not standards: they are more analogous to pieces of software. No software has ever been created by a process satisfying condition (ii).

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.

Good idea.



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
>>>  policy.
>>>  >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
>>>  maintained
>>>  >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
>>>  example.
>> 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
> available?
>> ,
>> 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
>> whether:
>> - 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.
> Pat

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