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personal comment on primer

From: Jeremy Carroll <jeremy@topquadrant.com>
Date: Fri, 21 Nov 2008 11:30:01 -0800
To: <public-owl-comments@w3.org>
Cc: <joan.roughgarden@stanford.edu>
Message-ID: <00ae01c94c0f$94840430$bd8c0c90$@com>

(Just found this in my drafts folder ... I'm not sure why I didn't send it earlier)


This is a personal comment on the current editors' draft of the primer:

http://www.w3.org/2007/OWL/wiki/Primer

but equally applies to the last published WD.
(More personal than a usual personal comment!)




Hi Bijan

You asked at the recent F2F meeting whether the examples in the primer might cause offense.

The answer is yes.

The manner in which I am offended, an over-simplistic model of gender, is one to which I have learnt not to be offended - but to take joy in the rare circumstances where some effort has been made to not offend. There is a clear defense of merely repeating the prior art.
I suspect people in non-traditional families might also be offended, it may be worth soliciting reviews on precisely this point, perhaps after having put some disclaimer. I suspect I could seek out a suitable reviewer ...

e.g.

Class: Person SubClassOf: hasAge exactly 1 and hasGender exactly 1 and hasGender only {female , male} 
Class: Man EquivalentTo: Person and hasGender value male 
Class: Woman EquivalentTo: Person and hasGender value female

And perhaps

SameIndividual: male g:masculine 
SameIndividual: female g:feminine

(where making the mistake of reading the names as indicative of their English meaning, I would want to distinguish between maleness and masculinity)

A model of gender that rings truer for me is given in Joan Roughgarden's "Evolution's rainbow: Diversity, Gender, and Sexuality in Nature and People" e.g.
She defines genders as:
"distinct morphologies, behavioral roles, and life histories in sexed bodies"
while sex is merely gamete size (sperm or egg); and neither gender nor sex is restricted to being 1-1 or to making a binary division.

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For me a difficulty with the choice of example is that the overly simplistic treatment reinforces modeling errors that almost certainly cause actual implementation difficulty in a range of computer systems: for example I suspect that fairly frequently migrating systems to cope with gay marriage is non-trivial because the model of marriage described in the primer has been hard coded into them. I am aware that at least some transgender people have documents for both male and female presentation, which I suspect causes problems for computer systems that have been designed with that as explicitly impossible. A further example is of a couple being a man and an F2M transsexual, legally married in a jurisdiction that did not recognize the new gender assignment, and living in one that does ... my guess is that their lives are filled with compromises with computer systems built around traditional models.

====

I would be more than happy with a disclaimer that noted some of these difficulties; and satisfied with no change.

Jeremy
Received on Friday, 21 November 2008 19:31:03 GMT

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