W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > semantic-web@w3.org > December 2005

Re: How will the semantic web emerge

From: Frank Manola <fmanola@acm.org>
Date: Fri, 16 Dec 2005 14:23:12 -0500
Message-ID: <43A31420.9020909@acm.org>
To: semantic-web@w3.org

Seth Russell wrote:
> On 12/16/05, *Asankhaya Sharma* <asankhaya@yahoo.com 
> <mailto:asankhaya@yahoo.com>> wrote:
> 
>     there must be de facto standards of classifing
>     information or else the very cause of classification
>     is useless.
> 
> 
> People point at a mountain and utter a sign.  That's how language 
> starts.  People fall into habits of signing and people learn those 
> habits.  No "de facto standards" are necessary, just habits ... repeated 
> usages ... people repeating things that work for them. 
> 

Yep.  Then someone decides to record descriptions of all those habitual 
usages in a document of some kind (often called a "dictionary" in 
non-computer circles).  And people start referring to that document 
(e.g., when they're asked "what do you mean by 'foo'?", or when they 
want to see if there's some commonly-used term for what they're trying 
to convey).  And other people start recording commonly-understood 
interrelationships among those usages (like "foo" is a special case of 
"bar") and writing them down too (this is sometimes called a 
"thesaurus").  Before you know it, you've got one of those awful de 
facto standards (note:  you said "de facto", not "de jure"), complete 
with one of those even-more-awful classification schemes.  Then we 
presumably have to start over, because of course we couldn't possibly 
refer to anyone else's work, because it might be too authoritarian, and 
anyway it's more fun to be the Red Queen in Wonderland, and let words 
mean what we want them to mean!  :-)

Slightly more seriously, it'd be nice in some of these discussions if we 
could watch some of the overgeneralization a bit more carefully.  While 
creation of extensive pre-defined ontologies (what some people mean by 
"ontology" in the context of this discussion could be a lot clearer, 
BTW) for some SW applications may be overkill, there are a number of 
such ontologies that seem to be pretty useful in their own specialized 
areas (medicine comes to mind).  It's up to those working in those areas 
to decide whether it's worthwhile to create an ontology (whatever that 
means) and when.  That's the kind of democratic process a number of you 
folks seem to really want, but if it's *really* democracy, it has to be 
possible to democratically-decide to create (and use) an ontology, 
doesn't it?

--Frank
Received on Friday, 16 December 2005 19:22:07 GMT

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.2.0+W3C-0.50 : Friday, 22 February 2013 14:24:52 GMT