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AW: Fractal communities: Was: Rich semantics and expressiveness

From: Tanja Sieber <tanja.sieber@t-dos.de>
Date: Wed, 7 Mar 2007 09:55:33 +0100
To: <matthew.west@shell.com>, <timbl@w3.org>, <hans.teijgeler@quicknet.nl>
Cc: <semantic-web@w3.org>
Message-ID: <KNEHLJDGCAJHFAHOOMOHEEEPGAAA.tanja.sieber@t-dos.de>

Dear Matthew, and others,

1. I had similar discussions already in the enterprises I worked as
consultant in the mechanical (BOSCH), automotive (GM) and software
engineering (SAP) area. In these enterprises the situation is not as
different concerning the fact, that there is a kind of a product life cycle
and some use cases, where ontologies might be useful. We made quite good
experiences in involving experts with strong terminological foundations and
combining the work, they have normally already done in filling their
terminology databases with the creation of ontologies. Those people are
trained in keeping aware of existing standards etc. and it would be the
biggest fault not to respect their already collected experiences and also
achieved best practices.

2. Semantics nevertheless due to my personal opinion is still intra-personal
and we are captured in our lingual possibilities to talk about it, but we
are absolutely not able to build up a global ontology or to define as a
fact, what the semantic of a certain sign (I mean it here in the terms of
Peirce) is for someone else!  This is a fact that we have also to consider
creating ontologies and to accept the natural borders of working with
ontologies.

3. I agree that authorative ontology sources could be useful, because I see
the same problem like you and I know that a lot of people chare this
experience: mostly it's easier to create a new one than to scan over ten
existing ones and to realise what could be useful and what not. In fact,
concerning the ontology creation we stand in front of the same problems like
we do talking about software re-engineering, documentation re-use etc. How
could authorative ontology sources solve that problem, that the access to
'that' part of ontologies or to 'that' ontology, that I personally need, is
as easy for me and the resulting ontology fits to my problem?


Tanja

Best Regards / Mit freundlichen Grüssen / Üdvözlettel

		Dipl.-Ing. Tanja Sieber

Advanced Content Engineering
www.advan-ce.de

GENIAL Snowboards
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--



:: -----Ursprüngliche Nachricht-----
:: Von: semantic-web-request@w3.org [mailto:semantic-web-request@w3.org]Im
:: Auftrag von matthew.west@shell.com
:: Gesendet: Mittwoch, 7. März 2007 09:21
:: An: timbl@w3.org; hans.teijgeler@quicknet.nl
:: Cc: semantic-web@w3.org
:: Betreff: RE: Fractal communities: Was: Rich semantics and expressiveness
::
::
::
:: Dear Tim and Hans,
::
:: See below for a few observations.
::
::
:: Regards
::
:: Matthew West
:: Reference Data Architecture and Standards Manager
:: Shell International Petroleum Company Limited
:: Shell Centre, London SE1 7NA, United Kingdom
::
:: Tel: +44 20 7934 4490 Mobile: +44 7796 336538
:: Email: matthew.west@shell.com
:: http://www.shell.com
:: http://www.matthew-west.org.uk/
::
:: <snip>
:: > An agent plays a role in many different
:: > overlapping communities.  When I tag a photo as being of my
:: > car, or I
:: > agree to use my car in a car pool, or when I register the car with
:: > the Registry of Motor Vehicles, I probably use different
:: > ontologies.   There is some finite  effort it would take to
:: > integrate
:: > the ontologies, to establish some OWL (or rules, etc) to link them.
:: >
:: > - Everyone is encouraged to reuse other people's classes and
:: > properties to the greatest extent they can.
::
:: MW: One of the counterbalances I find to this is that it is often
:: easier/cheaper to reinvent classes than find them (usually lots of
:: versions) and decide if any of them really meet your needs. I know I
:: see a lot of reinvention.
::
:: > - Some ontologies will already exist and by publicly shred by many,
:: > such as ical:dtstart, geo:longitude, etc.  This is the single global
:: > community.
::
:: MW: This is a pure guess, but if we take longitude as an example I
:: would be very surprised if there were not at least 100 publicly
:: available ontologies that defined longitude. To reduce this, one
:: of the things I think we need to do is to develop a sense of
:: authoritative source. We need to ask ourselves the question: who
:: "owns" this? What is *their* name/definition? This is something we
:: try to do with out own reference data. So we recognise ISO country
:: codes, rather than invent our own, we recognise a companies product
:: name/code when we buy their product, and the companies registered
:: name and number, rather than our abbreviation or version of it.
::
:: > - Some ontologies will be established by smaller communities of many
:: > sizes.
:: >
:: > Why do I think the structure should be will be fractal?  Clearly
:: > there will be many more small communities, local ontologies, than
:: > global ones. Why a 1/f distribution? Well, it seems to occur in many
:: > systems including the web, and may be optimal for some problems.
:: > That we should design for a fractal distribution of ontologies is a
:: > hunch.  But it does solve the issue you raise.  Some aspects of the
:: > web have been shown to be fractal already.
:: >
:: > Here are some properties of the interconnections:
:: >
:: > - The connections between the ontologies may be made after their
:: > creation, not necessarily involving the original ontology designers.
:: > - There is a cost of connecting ontologies, figuring out how they
:: > connect, which people will pay when and only when they need the
:: > benefit of extra interoperability.
:: > - Sometimes when connecting ontologies, it is so awkward there is
:: > pressure to change the terms that one community uses to fit
:: > in better
:: > with the other community. Again, a finite cost to make the change,
:: > against a benefit or more interop.
::
:: MW: This is close to the dynamic view that I see. I see ontologies
:: start in isolation and then grow. Eventually, they bump into adjacent
:: ontologies that have also been growing (many will die of course).
::
:: MW: When enough ontologies overlap in a sufficiently annoying and
:: expensive way, an effort is undertaken to integrate these ontologies
:: to better support integration. This produces an increased centre of
:: gravity, and almost immediately small ontologies will spring up at
:: the edges, and bigger ontologies will bump into other big ontologies.
::
:: MW: This process repeats, as far as I can see indefinitely. I observe
:: that - within Shell at least - the time between integrating at one
:: level and integrating at the next level up is about 10 years.
:: >
:: > > Hence the need for a universal model as a common denominator. But
:: > > it is striking that the word "interconnection" was used, rather
:: > > than "integration". Interconnection reminds me of EAI [2], so hub-
:: > > based or point-to-point, where Semantic Web integration (as I
:: > > understand it) involves a web-based distributed data base.
:: >
:: > Yes, if web-based means an overlapping set of many ontologies in a
:: > fractal distribution.
:: > In his fractal tangle, there wil be several recurring patterns at
:: > different scales.
:: > One pattern is a local integration within (say) an enterprise, which
:: > starts point-point (problems scale as n^2) and then shifts with EIA
:: > to a hub-and-spoke as you say, where the effort scales as N.    Then
:: > the hub is converted to use RDF, and that means the hub then plugs
:: > into a external bus, as it connects to shared ontologies.
::
:: MW: That same kinds of things will happen with the shared ontologies
:: as with the enterprise ontologies (moving to a hub and spoke model
:: requires an integrating ontology that at least spans the shared data).
:: >
:: >
:: >
:: > >
:: > > Keeping in mind that, as I wrote before in this thread,
:: > application
:: > > systems store a lot of implicit data (or actually don't store
:: > > them), the direct mapping of their data to the SW formats will
:: > > cause more problems than its solves. They are based on their own
:: > > proprietary data model, and these are unintelligible for other,
:: > > equally proprietary, data models.
:: > >
:: > > The thing puzzling me is how the SW community can see what
:: > I cannot
:: > > see, and that is how on earth you can achieve what your Activity
:: > > Statement says, without such a standard generic data model and
:: > > derived standard reference data (taxonomy and ontology). But
:: > > perhaps not many SW-ers bother about the need of universal
:: > > integration, and are happily operating within their own subdomain,
:: > > such as FOAF.
:: >
:: > So the idea is that in any one message, some of the terms will be
:: > from a global ontology, some from subdomains.
::
:: MW: Well if this means that we go out to the authoritative source for
:: reference data, rather than reinventing it, then that would be
:: consistent with what I was saying above. But at the moment, the problem
:: I see is that just about everyone thinks they have the right to be
:: an authoritative source on whatever they please. This is not useful.
::
:: > The amount of data which can be reused by another agent will depend
:: > on how many communities they have in common, how many
:: > ontologies they
:: > share.
:: >
:: > In other words, one global ontology is not a solution to the
:: > problem,
::
:: MW: But interestingly, something that was the sum of the authoritative
:: sources I have been talking about, would be something like a global
:: ontology (but not the only one of course - just a dominant one).
::
:: > and a local subdomain is not a solution either.  But if each agent
:: > has uses a mix of a few ontologies of different scale, that is forms
:: > a global solution to the problem.
::
:: MW: I'm not convinced about this, though I will concede that
:: authoritative sources might have small or large ontologies with variation
:: in the size and spread of their user base. However, I am quite confident
:: that we will only get there if we can find a way to reduce the use
:: of non-authoritative sources. Of course the web is the only chance we
:: have of being able to share these authoritative sources effectively.
:: >
:: > Tim.
:: >
:: > >
:: > > Can anybody enlighten me, at least by pointing to some useful links?
:: > >
:: >
:: > ummm   http://www.w3.org/DesignIssues/Fractal.html  to which I might
:: > add this explanation some time.
:: >
:: >
:: >
:: > > Regards,
:: > > Hans
:: > >
:: > > PS The above does not mean that I have no faith in the SW. On the
:: > > contrary, I preach the SW gospel. But I just want to understand
:: > > where it is moving to.
:: > >
:: > > [1] http://www.w3.org/2001/sw/Activity
:: > > [2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enterprise_Application_Integration
:: > >
:: > > ____________________
:: > > OntoConsult
:: > > Hans Teijgeler
:: > > ISO 15926 specialist
:: > > Netherlands
:: > > +31-72-509 2005
:: > > www.InfowebML.ws
:: > > hans.teijgeler@quicknet.nl
:: > >
:: > >
:: > >
:: > > --
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:: > > Mar-07 16:19
:: >
:: >
:: >
::
::
::
Received on Wednesday, 7 March 2007 08:55:55 UTC

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