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Re: Organization ontology

From: Dan Brickley <danbri@danbri.org>
Date: Thu, 3 Jun 2010 15:55:01 +0200
Message-ID: <AANLkTikBk8JTc5R3zLiUAhjxSRv5dv9g_XR3Oy7e-W2b@mail.gmail.com>
To: William Waites <ww-keyword-okfn.193365@styx.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 Thu, Jun 3, 2010 at 3:07 PM, William Waites <william.waites@okfn.org> wrote:
> 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?)


Re spelling - fair question. I think there are good reasons. British
spelling accepts both. FOAF, which was made largely in Bristol UK but
with international participants, has used 'Z' spelling for nearly a
decade, http://xmlns.com/foaf/spec/#term_Organization ... as far as I
know without any complaints. I'm really happy to see this detailed
work happen and hope to nudge FOAF a little too, perhaps finding a
common form of words to define the shared  general Org class.

It would be pretty unfortunate to have foaf:Organization and
org:Organisation; much worse imho than the camel-case vs underscore
differences that show up within and between vocabularies. Z seems the
pragmatic choice.

I don't know much about English usage outside the UK and the northern
Americas, but I find 'z' is generally accepted in the UK, whereas in
the US, 's' is seen as a mistake. This seems supported by whoever
wrote this bit of wikipedia,
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_and_British_English_spelling_differences#-ise.2C_-ize_.28-isation.2C_-ization.29

"""American spelling accepts only -ize endings in most cases, such as
organize, realize, and recognize.[53] British usage accepts both -ize
and -ise (organize/organise, realize/realise,
recognize/recognise).[53] British English using -ize is known as
Oxford spelling, and is used in publications of the Oxford University
Press, most notably the Oxford English Dictionary, as well as other
authoritative British sources. """


> 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.

Yes. In FOAF we have a class foaf:Project but it is not quite clear
how best to characteri[sz]e it. In purely FOAF oriented scenarios, I
believe it is hardly ever used (although humm stats below seem to
contradict that). However, the pretty successful DOAP project
('description of a project') has made extensive use of a subclass,
doap:Project in describing open source collaborative projects. These
have something of the character of an organization, but are usually on
the bazaar end of the cathedral/bazzar spectrum.

Are some but not all projects also organizations? etc. discuss :)

See also http://xmlns.com/foaf/spec/#term_Project
http://trac.usefulinc.com/doap

http://sindice.com/search?q=foaf:project+&qt=term

Search results for terms “foaf:project ”, found about 13.0 thousand
(sindice seems to require downcasing for some reason)

http://sindice.com/search?q=doap:project+&qt=term
Search results for terms “doap:project ”, found about 8.41 thousand

(I haven't time to dig into those results, probably the queries could
be tuned better to filter out some misleading matches)

> Is a state an Organisation?

It would be great to link if possible to FAO's Geopolitical ontology
here, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geopolitical_ontology ... this
for example has a model for groupings that geo-political entities
belong to (I'm handwaving a bit here on the detail). It also has a
class Organization btw, as well as extensive mappings to different
coding systems.

> 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.

As an aside, I would like to have a way of representing boards of
directors, to update the old (theyrule-derrived) FOAFCorp data and
schema. Ancient page here: http://rdfweb.org/foafcorp/intro.html
schema http://xmlns.com/foaf/corp/

> 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.

Am happy to leave Dave and co to fix all that, but welcome any advise
on how http://xmlns.com/foaf/spec/#term_Organization can remain a
useful high-level class, eg. wording fixes.

> 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.
>
> Thoughts?

Some problems are just hard?

cheers,

Dan
Received on Thursday, 3 June 2010 13:55:36 GMT

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