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Re: [SE] Ontology Driven Architecture Note

From: Phil Tetlow <philip.tetlow@uk.ibm.com>
Date: Mon, 14 Nov 2005 21:00:57 +0000
To: Jim Hendler <hendler@cs.umd.edu>
Cc: Tim Berners-Lee <timbl@w3.org>, "best-practice list" <public-swbp-wg@w3.org>, danbri@s3.org
Message-ID: <OF3D7C2508.97B4A3B5-ON802570B9.00673589-802570B9.00729BE7@uk.ibm.com>


I fully appreciate your point and indeed agree in part, but I don't
necessarily believe that the note is as dangerous, divisive or naïve as you
indicate (but I am hoping you will correct me further). As the preceding
paragraph to the section in question states "it is important to be
pragmatic" and also mentions that the two cases presented relate to a
"relational standpoint".

This section was, in fact, included following some considered and valued
input from Alan Rector and I personally think that it adds great value. For
me, it helps break down a number of barriers for many "traditional"
practitioners who IMHO have a somewhat esoteric view of the Semantic Web as
a holistic reality.

The main purpose of the note is to encourage take up in new communities,
“bridge building” if you will. As such, even though, we all know this side
of the bridge that linking “islands” of the Semantic Web will be important
in the future, I think there is another, equally important point we should
not forget – if the islands are not constructed in the first place, the
idea of linking them together into higher orders of ontology is merely
fanciful. Just because such islands choose to exist in the same referenable
ocean of HTTP URI space does not preclude them from being located over the
visible horizon, nor does it suggest that they have to be quarantined from
the rest of the world to prevent infection (please forgive my somewhat
forceful analogy here). Furthermore, I think it is important to note that
less experienced practitioners may well be more comfortable with island
building, than continent construction right now.

There is also a question of purpose here. This note was deliberately
written within the Best Practices Working Group to undergo hard review (and
it has indeed undergone a baptism of fire so far), so what exactly do we
mean by “Best Practice” here? Is it about the betterment of the notion of
“a Semantic Web” as you appear to suggest, or is it more to do with the
application of current technologies created under the Semantic Web banner?
If the latter is more relevant, then as an industrial practitioner using
such technologies in the field right now, the significant feedback I am
getting from "corporate" adopters is that they have purely selfish reasons
for adoption, wanting to address specific problems in their own specific
domains. Hence do we want to refer to such practices using “intra-based”
terminologies? My feeling is not for exactly the reasons you mention. Many
users deliberately adopt global namespaces from which to build their own
isolated understandings for good reason, and so these understandings may
well be blended into the wider community of the Semantic Web at some point
in the future (as indicated in the second bullet in the list). Therefore,
at present, they are neither totally isolated nor totally integrated; they
are merely invisible web fragments of an early and sporadic semantic whole.
Is this bad practice? Is this misconceived? I think not. It may not be
pure, but it is practical and it is helping to solve a number of serious
and significant real world problems right now; hence the need for best
practice guidance in this area. To marginalise such types of application
would, in my "naïve" mind, be counterproductive, but I wholeheartedly agree
with your opinion that it is important to send out the most appropriate
guidance to an eagerly awaiting audience at this time. Any further advice
you might have would indeed be appreciated, in what is undoutably a
contentious area.

I think that it is also important to reiterate that many of the
applications of Sem Web technologies we are now seeing are less concerned
with AI and more to do with formality of description and transformation

Ranting over. I must apologise!  ;0)

Best Regards,

Philip Tetlow
Senior Consultant (Certified Technical Architect)
IBM Business Consulting Services

Mail: IBM United Kingdom Limited, 1175 Century Way, Thorpe Park, Colton,
Leeds, LS15 8ZB
Current Assignment: DWP BPRP (Metadata)
Mobile: +44 (0)7740 923328
Email: philip.tetlow@uk.ibm.com

             Jim Hendler                                                   
             du>                                                        To 
                                       Phil Tetlow/UK/IBM@IBMGB,           
             14/11/2005 16:44          danbri@w3.org                       
                                       "best-practice list"                
                                       <public-swbp-wg@w3.org>, Tim        
                                       Berners-Lee <timbl@w3.org>          
                                       Re: [SE] Ontology Driven            
                                       Architecture Note                   

FWIW, I was planning to raise some objections when this went out - I
can do it now -- basically, I think we should remove the discussion
of "a collection of semantic webs" which is both naive and misleading
(section 3.4 of [1]) -- rather, if you wish to refer to something
like "Semantic intra-nets" or such I could live with that -- the
point is this content all lives in the same exact address space (the
http URI space) and separate documents within corporations or the
like, may be protected by firewalls, or by lack of linking, but since
they still participate in this same universal space (and via same
protocols, standards, etc;) saying "Semantic Webs" is as wrong as
referring to separate "Webs" -- the WWW has intranet/intraweb
components which are walled-off from others, and this was crucial to
early Web development, but it is exactly that these could eventually
be linked to others that we have a (singular) World Wide Web, and
conveying the idea that somehow the Sem Web is different is both
misleading and wrong -- if someone totally foolish wanted to create
their own, unregistered URI scheme, keep their ontologies against
that scheme (and I guess copy the owl namespace into that space or
else they link via owl: concepts), and make sure nothing every
touched the rest of the Web it could be a separate Semantic Web, but
it seems like an odd and vicious idea to do so.   Linking "islands"
of the Semantic Web will eventually be very important to its success,
and it is VERY important that we don't convey the idea that these
islands are somehow separate -- if we do, then much of the Sem Web
technology "degrades" back to the traditional, unlinkable, AI stuff,
which is what we are trying to avoid.
  Tim BL and I had a fight with one of the EU funders who kept trying
to refer to multiple Semantic Webs, and seeing SWBP feed into this
foolish misconception would not be a good thing
  -Jim Hendler
   AC Rep
  MIND Lab

[1] http://www.w3.org/2001/sw/BestPractices/SE/ODA/

At 8:47 +0000 11/14/05, Phil Tetlow wrote:
>How do you suggest we go about SWIG review of the ODA note?
>It can be found at http://www.w3.org/2001/sw/BestPractices/SE/ODA/

>Best Regards,
>Philip Tetlow
>Senior Consultant (Certified Technical Architect)
>IBM Business Consulting Services
>Mail: IBM United Kingdom Limited, 1175 Century Way, Thorpe Park, Colton,
>Leeds, LS15 8ZB
>Current Assignment: DWP BPRP (Metadata)
>Mobile: +44 (0)7740 923328
>Email: philip.tetlow@uk.ibm.com

Professor James Hendler                                  Director
Joint Institute for Knowledge Discovery                        301-405-2696
UMIACS, Univ of Maryland                                       301-314-9734
College Park, MD 20742

(New course: http://www.cs.umd.edu/~hendler/CMSC498w/)
Received on Monday, 14 November 2005 21:01:14 UTC

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