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RE: [VM,ALL] Revised scope statement

From: Bernard Vatant <bernard.vatant@mondeca.com>
Date: Thu, 17 Jun 2004 11:30:02 +0200
To: "SW Best Practices" <public-swbp-wg@w3.org>
Cc: "tm-pubsubj" <tm-pubsubj@lists.oasis-open.org>
Message-ID: <GOEIKOOAMJONEFCANOKCMEJAEFAA.bernard.vatant@mondeca.com>


Tom

Thanks for your clarifications

> According to http://www.w3.org/2004/03/thes-tf/mission, the
> THES/PORT Task Force wants to focus on guidelines and tools
> for representing structured vocabularies using RDF/OWL.

Yes

> To my way of thinking, the Vocabulary Management TF would,
> in contrast, focus on the identification of terms (and of
> versions of terms and sets of terms) and on policies and
> practices related to the identification of terms.

The real issue here is to know if it makes sense to identify terms (or anything else)
independently of any application context. For example, in a Thesaurus, the application
context of a term (i.e. its contextual definition) is expressed by its BT, NT, RT, UF,
USE, Scope Note ... If you strip a term off all this contextual information, what's left?
a name? a URI? A bare identifier without any identification context is as useful as a
credit card number outside any banking system.
IOW, relationships between identification and contextual definition are tricky to
entangle, and setting generic term identification valid for *any* context seems very
difficult (read : barely possible).

> I sense that we might plausibly agree on some basic principles
> regarding identification and on the need to articulate one's
> policies, but that there is still "an evolving diversity" of
> approaches towards documenting, representing, and publishing
> a vocabulary.
>
> But that's okay -- at that point, the VM TF could simply point
> off to other documents and practices such as the the THES/PORT
> TF note and the OASIS Published Subjects work you cite below.

If that means : There is a generic question of term identification, generic principles
that can be set in the SW context (see below), but specific ways to apply those principles
always depend on context (e.g. Thesaurus, Ontologies, Topic Maps, Taxonomies ...) then I
agree.
BTW such an approach could help to get out of the endless debate on URI meaning, by
stressing the (IMO obvious) fact that whatever an identifier identifies necessarily always
assumes an application context, and that the Web (semantic or otherwise) can barely be
considered a univocal application context ...

> > 2. I share the concern expressed by Alan about "terminological" vs
> "conceptual" approaches
> > of Vocabulary, and the need for clarification about it in the SW community.
> SKOS input is
> > certainly to be brought to the table, as well as current debates about use of
> dc:subject
> > in various places.
>
> My instinct would be to cite such debates where appropriate
> but to put alot of these issues out of scope for the VM TF
> note itself and focus on lower-hanging fruit.  For example,
> can we agree that terms should be both identified with URIs
> and labelled with human language?

Hopefully this is a reasonable consensus basis.

> > 3. It strikes me how the scope and objectives are quite similar to those we set three
> > years ago when founding the OASIS Published Subjects Technical Committee:
> > http://www.oasis-open.org/committees/tc_home.php?wg_abbrev=tm-pubsubj
> > Note that this TC work has been in sort of standby for a year or so, out of
> both lack of
> > task force, and lack of consensus about how to tackle further deep the details of very
> > difficult issues left on the table:
> > http://www.oasis-open.org/committees/tm-pubsubj/docs/recommendations/issues.htm
> > even if a very generic recommendation was eventually released in 2003:
> > http://www.oasis-open.org/committees/download.php/3050/pubsubj-pt1-1.02-cs.pdf
> >
> > I hope this work "as is" could be food for thought for this TF.
>
> The generic recommendation is nicely written.

Congratulations passed to the TC list - and particularly to Steve Pepper.

> I read it as
> saying, in essence: "Subject headings intended for use with
> Topic Maps should be identified with URIs, labelled with human
> language, accompanied with a statement of intended use, and
> described with metadata."
> If this paraphrase does justice
> to the recommendation, then it would seem to fit perfectly
> with what I think the VM TF note should say.

Agreed, with some minor corrections to your paraphrase.
1. "Subject headings" is somehow a restriction of scope of PubSubj recommendation, which
is about "subjects" in the widest possible sense, not only those defined in vocabularies.
But this restriction is valid in VM TF scope.

2. Topic Maps is the original application context for PSI. But as the introduction of the
quoted recommendation hopefully makes clear, it's not the only one.

3. The "human language label" requirement is also a restriction of the PubSubj
recommendation, which simply states that a subject indicator should be "human
interpretable". Think about the specific shade of blue defined by the RGB code #021A81.
This is barely a "human language label", but the color itself is pretty well defined by
the "human readable" subject indicator http://mediagods.com/tools/rgb2hex.html?464,294

> The open issues, on the other hand, seem to shade off into
> community-specific philosophy with regard to the nature of the
> terms identified and of the relationships among terms.  They
> reflect that "evolving diversity" of choices about which "good
> practice" may for valid historical reasons be still unclear --
> things like "# versus /", the descriptive attributes of terms,
> and details on publishing related documentation and metadata.
>
> Again, for such issues of "evolving diversity", I think the
> VM TF note should simply summarize and point to ongoing work.
> The VM TF membership would be hopefully diverse enough that we
> could among ourselves come up with a reasonably representative
> set of relevant citations.

Agreed

Bernard

Bernard Vatant
Senior Consultant
Knowledge Engineering
Mondeca - www.mondeca.com
bernard.vatant@mondeca.com


> -----Message d'origine-----
> De : public-swbp-wg-request@w3.org
> [mailto:public-swbp-wg-request@w3.org]De la part de Thomas Baker
> Envoye : jeudi 17 juin 2004 05:30
> A : Bernard Vatant
> Cc : Thomas Baker; SW Best Practices
> Objet : Re: [VM,ALL] Revised scope statement
>
>
>
> On Wed, Jun 16, 2004 at 06:05:18PM +0200, Bernard Vatant wrote:
> > I have a few general comments about this TF proposal.
> >
> > 1. Seems to me there is a great deal of overlap with PORT, alias THES, TF. In fact, I
> > understand VM work to be in many respects an extension or generalization of THES work,
> > since a Thesaurus is a specific organization of a Vocabulary for a specific
> application
> > (unless I miss something). How will the two TF define their specific scope?
>
> According to http://www.w3.org/2004/03/thes-tf/mission, the
> THES/PORT Task Force wants to focus on guidelines and tools
> for representing structured vocabularies using RDF/OWL.
>
> To my way of thinking, the Vocabulary Management TF would,
> in contrast, focus on the identification of terms (and of
> versions of terms and sets of terms) and on policies and
> practices related to the identification of terms.
>
> I sense that we might plausibly agree on some basic principles
> regarding identification and on the need to articulate one's
> policies, but that there is still "an evolving diversity" of
> approaches towards documenting, representing, and publishing
> a vocabulary.
>
> But that's okay -- at that point, the VM TF could simply point
> off to other documents and practices such as the the THES/PORT
> TF note and the OASIS Published Subjects work you cite below.
>
> > 2. I share the concern expressed by Alan about "terminological" vs
> "conceptual" approaches
> > of Vocabulary, and the need for clarification about it in the SW community.
> SKOS input is
> > certainly to be brought to the table, as well as current debates about use of
> dc:subject
> > in various places.
>
> My instinct would be to cite such debates where appropriate
> but to put alot of these issues out of scope for the VM TF
> note itself and focus on lower-hanging fruit.  For example,
> can we agree that terms should be both identified with URIs
> and labelled with human language?
>
> > 3. It strikes me how the scope and objectives are quite similar to those we set three
> > years ago when founding the OASIS Published Subjects Technical Committee:
> > http://www.oasis-open.org/committees/tc_home.php?wg_abbrev=tm-pubsubj
> > Note that this TC work has been in sort of standby for a year or so, out of
> both lack of
> > task force, and lack of consensus about how to tackle further deep the details of very
> > difficult issues left on the table:
> > http://www.oasis-open.org/committees/tm-pubsubj/docs/recommendations/issues.htm
> > even if a very generic recommendation was eventually released in 2003:
> > http://www.oasis-open.org/committees/download.php/3050/pubsubj-pt1-1.02-cs.pdf
> >
> > I hope this work "as is" could be food for thought for this TF.
>
> The generic recommendation is nicely written.  I read it as
> saying, in essence: "Subject headings intended for use with
> Topic Maps should be identified with URIs, labelled with human
> language, accompanied with a statement of intended use, and
> described with metadata."  If this paraphrase does justice
> to the recommendation, then it would seem to fit perfectly
> with what I think the VM TF note should say.
>
> The open issues, on the other hand, seem to shade off into
> community-specific philosophy with regard to the nature of the
> terms identified and of the relationships among terms.  They
> reflect that "evolving diversity" of choices about which "good
> practice" may for valid historical reasons be still unclear --
> things like "# versus /", the descriptive attributes of terms,
> and details on publishing related documentation and metadata.
>
> Again, for such issues of "evolving diversity", I think the
> VM TF note should simply summarize and point to ongoing work.
> The VM TF membership would be hopefully diverse enough that we
> could among ourselves come up with a reasonably representative
> set of relevant citations.
>
> > Looking into the details, I found at least a dozen of very difficult and open
> issues on
> > the table. The objective of capturing the state of the art for all of them in a single
> > technical note seems highly challenging, to say the least. So I was about to
> say "count me
> > in" for this TF ... but OTOH I'm a bit scared to get lost again in a known maze :(
>
> It was precisely this fear that motivated me to ask for a
> conference call.  I agree we could easily get bogged down by
> wading too far into detail.  The diversity of trees, however,
> should perhaps not prevent us from stepping back and describing
> the forest.
>
> Tom
>
> --
> Dr. Thomas Baker                        Thomas.Baker@izb.fraunhofer.de
> Institutszentrum Schloss Birlinghoven         mobile +49-160-9664-2129
> Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft                          work +49-30-8109-9027
> 53754 Sankt Augustin, Germany                    fax +49-2241-144-2352
> Personal email: thbaker79@alumni.amherst.edu
>
Received on Thursday, 17 June 2004 05:30:11 UTC

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