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Re: [ontology-summit] Shareable versus reusable, or shared and reusable

To: Ontology Summit 2011 discussion <ontology-summit@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Jack Ring <jring7@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 19 Apr 2014 06:54:25 -0700
Message-id: <9B0E37F3-79A9-4472-916E-10FB874D61F0@xxxxxxxxx>
Perhaps an item shared is one that exists within the boundaries of two or more systems simultaneously whereas an item reused is a copy (perhaps not exact) that exists outside of the boundary of the system in which the predecessor exists.

On Apr 19, 2014, at 1:21 AM, Matthew West (Information Junction) <matthew.west@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

Dear Terry,
I agree strongly with the distinction you are making here. Unfortunately, what you have described here as reuse, is what I am used to call sharing. So I think we must conclude that there is considerable variation in the use of these terms. I think it would be useful to note the variation in usage, and perhaps suggest some more precise terminology such as controlled and uncontrolled reuse/sharing.
Matthew West                           
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From: ontology-summit-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:ontology-summit-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Ofterry.longstreth
Sent: 19 April 2014 06:51
To: Ontology Summit 2014 discussion
Subject: Re: [ontology-summit] Shareable versus reusable, or shared and reusable
Thank you for bringing this issue back to the forum.  My background, and most of my work history has been in data and information management systems development, starting with my joining IBM in 1967.  I've been a member of ACM-Sigmod since the late 70s, and was responsible for one of the first attempts that I'm aware of to use a commercial data dictionary product to manage the software application interfaces of a large and complex command and control database, designed according to the normalization principles being laid down at the time by Ted Codd, Chris Date, and Ron Fagin (among many others, I list these only because their names spring to mind).  

I am a dynamicist, which seems to give me a different perspective on data and its use from what I see in this year's summit. My perspective is applicable to all stored data  whether representing an ontology, a computer program, or live operational values for an enterprise.  In my view, data, and by extension an ontology, ontology fragment, ontology module, or a composition of ontologies, is not a priori a stable entity.  This incipient volatility (Dr. Ted Codd called it 'time-varying')  to me is the essence of the utility function for use/reuse or sharing.  In fact, if the data (ontology) is truly static, frozen, stabilized or invariant, it's not very interesting to me.  All data represents some abstraction, and the permanence of each abstraction is always open to question.  Of course if the data is being presented in an historical context (last years tax code) it mustn't change but I'm assuming for the purposes of Ontology and ontological commitment the actual semantics must be to some degree either fluid or so ambiguous as to be useless in an _expression_ in logic. 

So here is how I would differentiate between use/reuse and sharing:
  1. When it's made available within a community of interest (however defined) for other members of that community to use in some non-prespecified purpose, and the data is changed after the fact of it's being applied to that purpose, the onus is upon the supplier to notify those consumers of possible impacts to them.. That's my view of reuse and reusability; the intent and commitment of the supplier is that the dynamics of evolution are accommodated in reuse protocols that allow some level of cooperation among the participants.  
    In their use, the Federal and state Tax Codes have many of the properties of an Ontology, and all users (Accountants, lawyers, taxpayers, Turbotax...) must be periodically told of the state of the codes to allow them to properly pay or report value transactions to the Tax authorities.  All of those affected entities are collaboratively engaged in a cycle of data reuse.   Of course, they share the tax codes with the tax makers and collectors, but the sharing is on the whole, incidental
  2. So, sharing is not a collaborative exercise.  Public libraries are repositories of shared data.  The NIH has specific rules for sharing of research data (which presumably applies to BIOMED, OBO, and related health and medicine ontologies developed under government funding). These rules are almost exclusively focused on fostering availability of the data, and imply that the most common form of sharing is publication in some freely available medium (or document).  The data is shared when anyone else reads it. Collaboration is not an explicit requirement (though it's acknowledged as a desirable outcome in some cases).  Most importantly, once in final publication, there is very little effort expended to correct it, and essentially no effort to coordinate those corrections with others who may have been impacted by the distinctions raised in using the pre versus post correction data.

In summary, Reuse implies collaborative application of shared knowledge among a community with concomitant communication of changes to the information, while sharing of an Ontology is equivalent to publishing it for others to use with no commitment to coordinate changes or corrigendae, and in general, no requirement to know who or how the "downstream" community might employ the Ontology.

I don't know if the ideas I've expressed here have any bearing on the communique for this year's Summit,  but I do appreciate the opportunity to air my thoughts. 

Terry Longstreth - longstreth@xxxxxxx

On 4/17/2014 10:08 PM, Andrea Westerinen wrote:

I know that Terry Longstreth raised a question on the conference call today about sharing versus reusing.

I tried poking around the web to see how others used the terms, and here is what I found:

1. Many people talk about sharing and reusing together (but clearly something must first be shared in order to be reused)

2. When there is some distinction, it seems to come from where and how you share (in what repositories or libraries, and with what licensing terms).  Then, depending on the where and how of sharing, you might or might not enable reuse.
Terry, Do you define this differently?

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