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"what is an ontology?" stuff in requirements abstract/intro

From: Dan Connolly <connolly@w3.org>
Date: 13 Feb 2002 13:41:52 -0600
To: www-webont-wg@w3.org
Message-Id: <1013629312.18789.13.camel@dirk>
Our requirements document is going to
be the first exposure that some folks
get to our work; I can imagine
it showing up in Robin Cover's XML
new stuff; he'll probably grab the abstract:

"This document specifies goals, requirements, and usage scenarios for
the OWL web ontology language."

I can imagine xml-dev/www-talk folks saying, "er..
gee, thanks; now what's an ontology

That's elaborated later in the document; let's
see if there's some text to grab... yes:

  Put simply, an ontology is just a set of
  standard vocabularly terms along with some
  formal definitions of the terms. 

Lightly edited:

  An ontology is vocabularly of terms along
  with some formal definitions of the terms.

I'd like another sentence that gives a short
list of examples:
	the yahoo hierarchy

	kindom/phylum/class sorts of biological

	product categorization: menswear vs.
		sporting goods vs. perishables

Or maybe a few buzzwords from our use cases would
be better: Portals, image collections, site
management, Intelligent Agents.

Oh... please flesh out the TOC. Please make sure
all the buzzwords are in there!

Hmm... about the intro in general...

  The W3C has chartered a Web Ontology working group (WebOnt)
  to develop a language which extends the semantic reach of
  current XML and RDF meta-data efforts. 

I prefer to think that the chartering isn't the cause of
our work; it's one of the effects. Presumably W3C chartered
this work because folks think it's useful. What is it
that folks think is useful?

The three examples I gave above are the sorts of things
I expect that our audience will be familiar with which
motivate our work. I'd suggest starting there.

  The term ontology may be unfamiliar to many readers of
  this document.

That seems superfluous. I suggest striking it.

  This notion of ontologies comes from Artificial Intelligence,
  where ontologies are used to allow heterogeneous systems to
  exchange and reason with information.

I'd suggest either citing specific work in this area
or striking the reference to Artificial Intelligence.

  One of the problems with using ordinary XML is that the
  elements and attributes defined by DTDs or XML Schemas do
  not have any semantics associated with them;

I think a lot of folks in our audience see the lack
of semantics in XML as a feature, not a problem.
Even myself: I don't see a lack of semantics in XML
as a problem with XML, any more than the lack
of semantics in s-expressions or binary trees
is a problem.

I'm not sure what to suggest as a replacement, other than
going right into use cases: "Consider the problem
of exchanging parts catalogs between suppliers...".
Maybe copying some stuff from the Web Portal
use case into the introductory material would be

Web Ontology Requirements
W3C Working Draft Feb 7, 2002 1:30 pm

Dan Connolly, W3C http://www.w3.org/People/Connolly/
Received on Wednesday, 13 February 2002 14:41:29 UTC

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