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Re: TAP definition of Terrorist

From: Rob McCool <robm@robm.com>
Date: Fri, 11 Jun 2004 15:04:22 -0700
To: Dan Brickley <danbri@w3.org>
Cc: public-rdf-tap@w3.org
Message-ID: <20040611150422.B5517@flapjack.stanford.edu>

> http://tap.stanford.edu/cgi-bin/download.pl?format=rdfs&iotoo=yes&node=TerroristOrganization&full=yes&download=download
> http://tap.stanford.edu/cgi-bin/kb.pl?node=TerroristOrganization&op=show&syn=10&browse=all
> 
> Resource  > Agent > Organization >
>    PoliticalOrganization > TerroristOrganization
> 
> ...lists 7 organisations as "Terrorist" without giving any definition
> for this notoriously emotive and controversial concept. This worries me, 
> particularly as this random selection of violence-tinged organisations
> (there are 1000s more) is somewhat weighted towards groups in support of 
> largely Islamic populations or causes. I would be a lot happier with TAP
> if you could expose (even just in prose/html) the definitional
> guidelines you're using to populate these bits of the KB. The single
> word 'terrorist' does really clarify things.  

There are in fact a lot more:

  http://ontap.stanford.edu/terrorists.html

That download script is broken. The link above goes to newer versions of the
KB browser, but it's a static page (the last time I posted a link to a 
development server, it took me three months to stop Yahoo Slurp from crawling
it despite robots.txt saying to get lost). The source of the data is not 
currently document in TAP, but it's the State Department's Patterns of Global 
Terrorism 2002. 

I think the 7 that show up on tap.stanford.edu were put in during 2001 by
hand, probably from the same "patterns" source.

[...]
> My point though isn't to argue the specifics of claims that are in TAP,
> but to suggest that TAP might see wider adoption if the KB editors tried
> to structure things so that the claims and worldview embodied in TAP are
> neutral and uncontroversial wherever possible. I think, even in the case
> of terrorism, this is achievable, by modeling the controversy (as
> sketched above). There is no real need for TAP, TAP's editors, or its 
> publishers (Stanford University?) to say "Organizations X, Y and Z are 
> 'Terrorist Organizations'", when it could instead say, with less
> controversy, "Party X denounces Organization Y as terroristic". This
> has two key benefits. Firstly it makes TAP more widely adoptable by
> pushing controversy down into reported content, secondly it allows 
> the basic structure of (certain kinds of) controversy to be modeled and
> used in applications. Maybe I've said the same thing twice. There are
> two ideas closely tangled up: being uncontroversial isn't the same thing
> as being bland, uninformative. Moving to a relational approach to 
> capturing the information re terrorism would I believe make TAP more
> informative.

These sorts of problems are heavily worked on in TAP, the best paper to read
about it is this one:
  http://ksl.stanford.edu/KSL_Abstracts/KSL-03-15.html
It's called "Semantic Issues in Web Scale Knowledge Aggregation" and it
details many of these sorts of issues, including the two you mention, the
problem of point of view and the problem of time.

A more detailed paper describing first steps toward solving these troubles
during aggregation is here:
  http://tap.stanford.edu/contexts.pdf

The second point you make, about contributions to TAP, I'm not sure is so 
simple. I'm not convinced that lots of people were considering contributing
data until they were offended by a simplistic categorization of their favorite
group or person. That being said, the Wikipedia model seems to be rather 
effective in this area, describing contentious issues in a way such that
controversy is embraced and expressed, and I think more could be done both
to stay away from the sorts of problems described in the "issues" paper, and
to stay away from honking people off. 
Received on Friday, 11 June 2004 18:04:26 GMT

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