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Re: Semantic Layers (Was: Interpretation of RDF reification)

From: John F. Sowa <sowa@bestweb.net>
Date: Sun, 26 Mar 2006 23:24:26 -0800
Message-ID: <4427932A.30904@bestweb.net>
To: Adrian Walker <adrianw@snet.net>
CC: Azamat <abdoul@cytanet.com.cy>, semantic-web@w3.org, Frank Manola <fmanola@acm.org>, "Peter F. Patel-Schneider" <pfps@research.bell-labs.com>, leo@mgn.ru


I certainly agree:

 > Good to see you pointing out that, for serious knowledge use,
 > we need to additional semantic layers and tools above RDF and OWL.
 > I agree...
 > However, we may need to push the envelope even further than logic,
 > or Common Logic.  At some point, the real world meaning of things
 > like... has to be made clear to nontechnical human beings.

We need multiple levels of languages:

  1. Languages that are designed for professional programmers and
     system developers, who are willing and able to dig deep into
     the inner workings of the computer system.

  2. Languages that are designed for specialists in some application
     area, who are not computer professionals, but who are willing
     and able to spend some time learning tools that they use in
     their daily work.

  3. Languages and GUIs for people who use an application and have
     no time or desire to learn anybody else's special conventions.

It's important to recognize that all of us, even those who spend
a great deal of time using languages of Categories #1 or #2, have
no desire to learn anybody else's languages and conventions when
we're making a plane reservation or paying our bills online.  So
Category #3 will be the most widely used by 99.44% of the population.

I consider Common Logic, Prolog, Conceptual Graphs, Description Logics,
and many other such things to belong to category #1.  For level #2,
I would propose something like a version of controlled English:


Controlled English can be read by anybody who knows English, but
it can only be written by people who have some training, such as
specialists (Category #2) who use it in their daily job.

My major complaint about SQL is that it was designed to be "human
factored" -- but the designers didn't have a clue about what kinds
of humans would be using it for what purpose.  For Category #1, a
language like Prolog (or Quel which Stonebreaker designed for Ingres)
would be much more convenient than SQL.  And for Category #2, a
controlled English language would be much more suitable.  But none
of those languages -- SQL, Prolog, Quel, or even controlled English
-- is acceptable for Category #3.

My complaint about RDF and OWL is that they are terrible languages
for all three categories of humans -- #1, #2, and #3 -- and they
are also horribly inefficient for computers.  They do not have
a target audience.

Moral of the story:  Human factors can only be evaluated in terms
of specific applications and the kinds of users who are expected
to use those applications.

Received on Monday, 27 March 2006 07:24:44 UTC

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