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Re: In defense of meaninglessness: an ontologist's dilemma*

From: Bob Futrelle <bob.futrelle@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 23 Jun 2011 08:51:00 -0400
Message-ID: <BANLkTimVB3uJP1NiUHt1xwaaiCSR7xNyNQ@mail.gmail.com>
To: Michel_Dumontier <Michel_Dumontier@carleton.ca>
Cc: "Sivaram Arabandi, MD" <sivaram.arabandi@gmail.com>, HCLS <public-semweb-lifesci@w3.org>, Joanne Luciano <jluciano@cs.rpi.edu>
There is a spectrum here, from black to white.  A house number, 223 Main
Street, is rather opaque,, whereas "The third house west of the southwest
corner of Main and Jones" is less opaque.

A real challenge is Japan, where the house addresses are numbered in the
order in which the houses were constructed - close to totally opaque, though
not meaningless.  Knowing the construction dates still does not help in
determining the location coordinates.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_numbering

A bit more complex: Houses can be picked and deposited in a new location.
 Street numbers are (very) occasionally revised; zip codes and area codes
more often.  Closer to home, genes and diseases are renamed.

- Bob Futrelle

PS: I'm not sure that this will be posted to the list.



On Thu, Jun 23, 2011 at 8:28 AM, Michel_Dumontier <
Michel_Dumontier@carleton.ca> wrote:

> Hi Sivaram,
>  Identifiers, whether opaque or not, hold meaning when they identify some
> thing (or things) - otherwise they do not serve their intended purpose.
>
> Where there is disagreement is in terms of the syntax of the identifier.
> Some want to incorporate language mnemonic and others use an alphanumeric
> identifier some namespace. The plethora of coding systems indicates that the
> alphanumeric identifier is a perfectly acceptable system. The plethora of
> linked data vocabularies indicates that a language mnemonic is a perfectly
> acceptable system. Respectfully, there is nothing to test here.
>
>  The only thing we can do is accept that both will exist as part of the
> semantic web. We're best to focus on what tools and approaches are required
> to work with such data and deal with substantive issues relating to
> conceptualization, formalization, publishing, internationalization,
> versioning, change management, mapping, reuse, query and discovery.
>
> Best,
>
> m.
>
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: public-semweb-lifesci-request@w3.org [mailto:
> public-semweb-lifesci-
> > request@w3.org] On Behalf Of Sivaram Arabandi, MD
> > Sent: Thursday, June 23, 2011 7:23 AM
> > To: HCLS
> > Subject: In defense of meaninglessness: an ontologist's dilemma*
> >
> > The issue of meaningless identifiers has been far more controversial than
> > imagined. After 70+ emails in the 2 threads
> > (http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-semweb-
> > lifesci/2011Jun/0080.html  and
> http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-
> > semweb-lifesci/2011Jun/0125.html), there is still no consensus.
> >
> > The views expressed in these threads demonstrates the substantial
> > experience of the members as well as the commitment of the group as a
> whole
> > to discuss it fairly and openly. However, no consensus has emerged.
> > Therefore, instead of continuing to bicker, perhaps this group should
> > approach it more scientifically and setup experiment(s) to test the
> > hypothesis that "MEANINGLESS (identifier) IS MEANINGFUL".
> >
> > As a member of the standards body, perhaps this would be worthy goal of
> the
> > HCLS charter.
> >
> > The ramifications of the proposed change to meaningless identifiers is
> > quite far reaching. If not approached careful, it will result in
> alienating
> > a substantial portion of the community. Hence, it is imperative that such
> a
> > move must build consensus before being undertaken.
> >
> > The current rationale put forward by OBO Foundry (
> http://obofoundry.org/id-
> > policy.shtml) has not been convincing - hence this current controversy.
> The
> > OBO Foundry should acknowledge this reality and work towards consensus
> > building by collaborating and constructing useful "proof of concept" use
> > cases that demonstrate the benefits of the "meaningless identifiers" in
> the
> > Semantic Web area. Not doing so will result in the very thing that the
> > Foundry and HCLS is trying to avoid - fragmentation!
> >
> > best
> > Sivaram
> > * subject line is an adaptation of Michael Pollan's bestsellers on food.
> > :)
> >
> > ____________________________
> > Sivaram Arabandi, MD, MS
> > Ph:  216.374.2883
> >
> > http://ontolog.cim3.net/cgi-bin/wiki.pl?SivaramArabandi
> > http://www.linkedin.com/pub/sivaram-arabandi/1/9ab/92a
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
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>
Received on Thursday, 23 June 2011 12:51:37 UTC

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