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Re: Ontology editor + why RDF?

From: Tom Stambaugh <tms@stambaugh-inc.com>
Date: Mon, 10 Apr 2006 14:49:28 -0400
Message-ID: <000e01c65ccf$7f557350$0200a8c0@TMSMAIN>
To: "Cutler, Roger \(RogerCutler\)" <RogerCutler@chevron.com>, "Waard, Anita de A \(ELS-AMS\)" <A.dewaard@elsevier.com>, <public-semweb-lifesci@w3.org>

Roger wrote:
> Well, I myself am particularly interested in commercially available
> products built on Semantic Web technology, but of course I'm not in the
> life sciences so maybe that's not an interesting data point.  As for
> interoperable formats -- that sounds like a good thing, but you can also
> get interoperability via interoperable access techniques to proprietary
> formats, right?  So is there a specific value to making the formats
> themselves common?   I must say, strictly for what it's worth, that my
> personal experience with trying to make common formats has been somewhat
> discouraging, and I have come to be more positive about more loosely
> coupled schemes where the interfaces are standardized, not the
> underlying data.  But this is based on areas rather different from
> thesauri in the life sciences.

Am I the only one who sees the irony in a statement that reads "my personal 
experience with trying to make common formats has been somewhat 
discouraging" delivered in a medium whose very existence is articulate 
testimony for common formats?

This is not to disagree with the perfectly reasonable suggestion that we 
*also* standardize interfaces. Today's network communications are so routine 
that we take them for granted. Some of us who remember battling about SDLC, 
ASCII versus EBCDIC, DECNET, and an interminable list of similar proprietary 
"standards" and protocols are perhaps less sanguine than Roger about this 
question. I wonder how many sysadmins are capable of supporting both Apache 
and IIS.

Especially when read in the context of Microsoft's recently-announced foray 
into Life Sciences (see 
subscription-only), I fear the unsavory prospect of the life science 
community ending up with "standard interfaces" like RTF and the many 
incompatible versions of MSWord documents. Such a future is perhaps 
attractive to Roger; it is less so to me.

Received on Monday, 10 April 2006 18:49:44 UTC

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