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Re: [Linking-open-data] watchdog.net and LOD best practices

From: Matthias Samwald <samwald@gmx.at>
Date: Thu, 17 Apr 2008 10:19:05 +0200
Message-ID: <4AA029FAE4854C3C9FC27B402C8DCB26@tessellate>
To: <public-lod@w3.org>, "Kingsley Idehen" <kidehen@openlinksw.com>
Cc: "Alan Ruttenberg" <alanruttenberg@gmail.com>

Kingsley wrote:
> A Web of Data is a Web of Data Objects. The Document Web is a Web of
> Documents.

But are "data objects" not just another layer of abstraction? RDF/OWL gives 
us the possibility to use URIs and ontologies to describe the things we are 
interested in (districts, people, protein sequences) without taking detours 
through thinking in terms of documents, data sets, conceptualisation and 
other abstractions. When we say that <http://example1.org/john_doe> 
owl:sameAs <http://example2.org/john_doe>, this is a statement about an 
object in reality, and not a data object (and, of course, not about a 
document either). Maybe this is just a matter of semantics, and with "data 
objects" you were actually referring to these objects in reality. For me, 
the term "data" is strongly associated with artefacts in our computer 
systems, and not objects in reality.

> We have to do a better job of explaining what Object Identity is about
> in the context of the Linekd Data Web, especially as this is an area of
> computer science that predates the Web.

I think foundational ontologies such as DOLCE [1] and BFO [2] could be of 
great utility for clarifying how identities of objects and classes are 
defined. I guess that such 'strict' approaches to ontology engineering are 
currently not very popular in the LOD community, but I think that their 
value will soon be recognized when the LOD dataset cloud grows -- and more 
and more questions about the actual meaning of 'sameAs' and 
'equivalentClass' arise. At least, this was the case with the complex 
RDF/OWL datasets we are dealing with in the life science and health care 
community [3].

[1] http://www.loa-cnr.it/DOLCE.html
[2] http://www.ifomis.org/bfo
[3] http://www.w3.org/TR/hcls-kb/

Matthias Samwald
Semantic Web Company, Austria // DERI Galway, Ireland
Received on Thursday, 17 April 2008 08:19:52 UTC

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