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Re: Organization ontology

From: William Waites <william.waites@okfn.org>
Date: Thu, 03 Jun 2010 14:07:57 +0100
Message-ID: <4C07A92D.90806@okfn.org>
To: Dan Brickley <danbri@danbri.org>
CC: "Stuart A. Yeates" <syeates@gmail.com>, Dave Reynolds <dave.e.reynolds@googlemail.com>, Linked Data community <public-lod@w3.org>, public-egov-ig@w3.org
On 10-06-03 09:01, Dan Brickley wrote:
> I don't find anything particularly troublesome about the org: vocab on
> this front. If you really want to critique culturally-loaded
> ontologies, I'd go find one that declares class hierarchies with terms
> like 'Terrorist' without giving any operational definitions...

I must admit when I looked at the org vocabulary I had a feeling
that there were some assumptions buried in it but discarded a
couple of draft emails trying to articulate it.

I think it stems from org:FormalOrganization being a thing that is
"legally recognized" and org:OrganizationalUnit (btw, any
particular reason for using the North American spelling here?)
being an entity that is not recognised outside of the FormalOrg

Organisations can become recognised in some circumstances
despite never having solicited outside recognition from a state --
this might happen in a court proceeding after some collective
wrongdoing. Conversely you might have something that can
behave like a kind of organisation, e.g. a "class" in a class-action
lawsuit without the internal structure present it most organisations.

Is a state an Organisation?

Organisational units can often be semi-autonomous (e.g. legally
recognised) subsidiaries of a parent or holding company. What
about quangos or crown-corporations (e.g. corporations owned
by the state). They have legal recognition but are really like
subsidiaries or units.

Some types of legally recognised organisations don't have a
distinct legal personality, e.g. a partnership or unincorporated
association so they cannot be said to have rights and responsibilities,
rather the members have joint (or joint and several) rights and
responsibilities. This may seem like splitting hairs but from a
legal perspective its an important distinction at least in some
legal environments. The description provided in the vocabulary
is really only true for corporations or limited companies.

I think the example, eg:contract1 is misleading since this is
an inappropriate way to model a contract. A contract has two
or more parties. A contract might include a duty to fill a role
on the part of one party but it is not normally something that
has to do with "membership"

Membership usually has a particular meaning as applied to
cooperatives and not-for-profits. They usually wring their hands
extensively about what exactly membership means. This concept
normally doesn't apply to other types of organisations and does
not normally have much to do with the concept of a role. The
president of ${big_corporation} cannot be said to have any kind
of membership relationship to that corporation, for example.

I think there might be more, but I don't think its a problem of
"embedding westminister assumptions" because I don't think
the vocabulary fits very well even in the UK and commonwealth
countries when you start looking at it closely.



William Waites           <william.waites@okfn.org>
Mob: +44 789 798 9965    Open Knowledge Foundation
Fax: +44 131 464 4948                Edinburgh, UK
Received on Thursday, 3 June 2010 13:09:26 UTC

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