W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-webont-comments@w3.org > March 2002

Re: Web Ontology - What's It's Reason For Being

From: Dan Connolly <connolly@w3.org>
Date: 14 Mar 2002 10:56:06 -0600
To: "MacAndrew, Tim" <tmacandrew@NetSilicon.com>
Cc: public-webont-comments@w3.org, Liam Quin <liam@w3.org>, Hugo Haas <hugo@w3.org>, Janet Daly <janet@w3.org>
Message-Id: <1016124967.5226.473.camel@dirk>
On Fri, 2002-03-08 at 11:37, MacAndrew, Tim wrote:
> To the W3C,
> 	Enough of this!  The W3C has lost it!  How can time and
> effort be spent developing requirements for the ontology of the
> Web when there are so many existing W3C specifications that are
> in such a horrible state.

W3C has a process for proposing new work and having it reviewed
before committing resources. In this case, we even asked
for public review before starting:

  Message-ID: <3B8ABA79.8031FE1D@w3.org>
  Date: Mon, 27 Aug 2001 16:24:09 -0500
  Subject: Semantic Web Activity and Web Ontology Working Group

The feedback we recieved during the review convinced us
that it was time to commit resources to a Web Ontology working group.

Since we called for participation in the group, approximately
50 engineers from a variety of organizations and companies
have joined the work; each of them wrote a short introduction
that explains their background and motivation for joining
the work; you're welcome to review them.


>  You people must stop calling yourself
> a "protocols development" organization when all you do is write
> fatasy documents about ivory tower concepts that prove useless to
> everyone.
> 	It's time for the W3C to clean house before it starts writing
> new specifications and requirements.  The lorrid state of XML Schema
> must be corrected.

I suggest you send that feedback to xmlschema-dev@w3.org
or www-xml-schema-comments@w3.org or any of the other
discussion for listed in

Meanwhile, I have copied Liam Quin, W3C XML Activity
lead, to bring it to his attention.

>  The XML Schema specs are in a "straw man" state
> and no one is making an effort to fix this.

Not so.

"The XML Schema Working Group delivered a Recommendation on a language
for data typing and structural constraints in XML in May 2001. In the
coming months, the Working Group plans to continue its work on a formal
description of XML Schema, to work on collecting and developing test
cases for XML Schema, to handle error reports and requests for
clarifications, and to prepare a release 1.1 release of the XML Schema
	-- http://www.w3.org/XML/Activity

>  The lack of interoperability
> in the early implementations of SOAP and WSDL must be corrected, or
> has it been the plan all along that whatever Microsoft does with .NET
> will become the standard?  After all, why write a real specification
> when all that has to be done is to wait for Microsoft to set the
> de-facto standard.

For details on W3C's work on Web Services, please see


I have copied Hugo Haas, W3C Web Services Activity lead,
to bring it to his attention.

> 	So now comes "Requirements for a Web Ontology Language" from
> the W3C.  Ontology of the Web

No, not "Ontology of the Web"... a language for writing
ontologies in the Web:

1.1 What is an Ontology?

An ontology defines the terms used to describe and represent an area of
knowledge. Ontologies are used by people, databases, and applications
that need to share domain information (a domain is just a specific
subject area or area of knowledge, like medicine, tool manufacturing,
real estate, automobile repair, financial management, etc.). Ontologies
include computer-usable definitions of basic concepts in the domain and
the relationships among them (note that here and throughout this
document, definition is not used in the technical sense understood by
logicians). They encode knowledge in a domain and also knowledge that
spans domains. In this way, they make that knowledge reusable.
 -- http://www.w3.org/TR/2002/WD-webont-req-20020307/#onto-def

> ... is this a joke?  Here, try this
> for ontology (see the original, non computer sci definition of the
> word).  The whole raison d'etre why specifications for interoperability
> have to exist is in response to pure, un-adulterated, capitalistic greed!
> CPUs and network equipment are not made to work with equipment from
> other vendors for economic reasons ... not so as to create lofty
> professions that figure out how best to achieve interoperability.
> The primary and main goal of corporations is to make profit.  The
> second goal is to destroy their competitors.  The best way to achieve
> the second goal is to make a product that doesn't work with your
> competitor's product, and then sell more than your competitor.  Or,
> just be like Microsoft and take over companies producing nascent
> technology and then simply destroy that which was just taken over.  The
> goal is not to cooperate with your competitor.  Rather, the goal is to
> destroy your competitor.  Then, the first goal is more readily achieved.
> There are no magical nor meta-physical forces at work here that cause the
> chaos between computer systems.

I appreciate the value of interoperability and, after
working on open specifications for about 10 years,
I am well aware of the market forces that work
in opposing directions. I think you'll find
that most people working in the W3C community
are also aware.

> 	It's time for the W3C to clean house before pushing off into
> more fantasy lands.  Software developers must stop being fooled by
> the W3C because the W3C uses key buzzwords like "e-Commerce" in a
> document that promises interoperability, but fails to deliver.

Where did you see W3C using buzzwords like "e-Commerce"?

Google finds 163 occurences of "e-commerce" at the W3C
web site

Most of them are mentions of someone else's e-commerce
conference, e-commerce submission, etc. The only
one I can see that originates from W3C is

 "The W3C Ecommerce/Micropayment Activity is now closed."
	-- http://www.w3.org/ECommerce/

I think you'll find that W3C is quite conservative
in its communications, compared to many other
organizations that develop web technologies.

The only occurences of "commerce" in our press releases
are mentions of other organizations and activities:

  1 July 1997
    W3C Director Tim Berners-Lee Participates at
    White House Administration's Electronic Commerce Initiative 

  15 October 96:
    W3C and CommerceNet Announce Major Step Toward
    Resolving Industry-wide Internet Payment Challenge [JEPI]

Meanwhile, I have copied Janet Daly, W3C head of communications,
to bring your concerns to her attention.

Dan Connolly, W3C http://www.w3.org/People/Connolly/
Received on Thursday, 14 March 2002 11:55:50 UTC

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