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Communicating about ontologies (Was: Labels separate from localnames)

From: Daniel Schwabe <dschwabe@inf.puc-rio.br>
Date: Fri, 22 Apr 2011 17:40:02 -0300
Message-Id: <C762AFDF-95FB-4598-9070-4D6CCCA5E3BD@inf.puc-rio.br>
To: public-lod@w3.org
Dear all,
I'd like to take this opportunity to change the focus of the discussion.

It seems to me this discussion is addressing a recurring problem we have been facing in the Semantic Web and, more pragmatically, in Linked Data - the way the ontology is specified and the way the ontology is *communicated* (both vocabulary and instances). The various arguments pro/against each of the options posed in this thread are a good example that it is too difficult to do both at the same time.

The ontology specification can have more rigid, perhaps less human-friendly syntax, as it should be machine-processable. It makes sense to keep it as concise and simple as possible.

On the other hand, communicating about it, in various contexts, is a much more complex endeavor, and I believe it is unlikely that a single solution/approach will suffice for all situations.
Therefore, I propose that we should *separate*  vocabularies dedicated to specifying how an author wants to *communicate* (i.e., "talk", "present", "discuss", etc...) about an ontology. It should have a way to, among other things, better specify the particular types of context this form of communication for which this form is intended, and one could have many of them. In a way, something analogous to media types in CSS, but much more sophisticated. These presentations should not add any formal semantics to the resources described (yes, I realize this can be debatable from a more philosophical standpoint, since any form of communication necessarily adds some semantics - added by the recipient/reader, which may not have been exactly what was meant by the author )

Then one could attach a property (e.g., iv:description) to a resource (including e.g., terms in vocabulary specifications) which would specify how this resource is to be "communicated" (e.g., displayed, spoken, etc...).
If this becomes standard practice (e.g. how rdfs:label is today), tool makers can take advantage to produce better designer-oriented "pretty prints" of an ontology, or end-user-oriented versions, etc..., without changing the ontology definition itself.

Thus, human readability of a vocabulary specification would not be such a major requirement as it seems to be, currently - Most people, including developers, would work with them through some specialized presentation form, most appropriate to his/her context.

So perhaps we should start focusing on what these "communication"  vocabularies would look like...

Just my 2c

Daniel Schwabe                      Dept. de Informatica, PUC-Rio
Tel:+55-21-3527 1500 r. 4356        R. M. de S. Vicente, 225<br>
Fax: +55-21-3527 1530               Rio de Janeiro, RJ 22453-900, Brasil
Received on Friday, 22 April 2011 20:41:49 UTC

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