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RE: Fractal communities: Was: Rich semantics and expressiveness

From: <matthew.west@shell.com>
Date: Wed, 7 Mar 2007 09:22:30 -0000
Message-ID: <808637A57BC3454FA660801A3995FA8F04A2D112@lonsc-s-031.europe.shell.com>
To: <tanja.sieber@t-dos.de>, <timbl@w3.org>, <hans.teijgeler@quicknet.nl>
Cc: <semantic-web@w3.org>

Dear Tanja,

> 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.

MW: Quite.
> 
> 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.

MW: I think that formal ontology can help here. A simple subtype/supertype
hierarchy can do a lot do disambiguate alternative meanings for a term,
and additional constraints can refine this further. However, a good text
definition is still the best way I know to ensure your meaning is clear
(to people at least). The rules of meaning are that when I use a sign,
it means what I intended it to. If someone else misinterprets that, then
I need to ask the question - did I make it sufficiently clear what the
sign represented?
> 
> 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?

MW: Well I think the web is essential to make authoritative sources
available. I think the question I have is: how do you recognise and
promote the authoritative souces?
> 
> 
> Tanja
> 
> Best Regards / Mit freundlichen Grüssen / Üdvözlettel
> 
> 		Dipl.-Ing. Tanja Sieber
> 
> Advanced Content Engineering
> www.advan-ce.de
> 
> GENIAL Snowboards
> www.genial-snowboards.de
> 
> 	VoIP: +49-180-1-99 55 00 80 70
> 	Tel.: +36-46-433 531
> 
> Kindness is the language, which the deaf can hear and the 
> blind can see
> (Mark Twain)
> --
> 
> 
> 
> :: -----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 09:22:47 UTC

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