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Re: [Dbpedia-discussion] Using DBpedia resources as skos:Concepts?

From: Pat Hayes <phayes@ihmc.us>
Date: Fri, 6 Nov 2009 10:18:37 -0600
Cc: Leonard Will <L.Will@willpowerinfo.co.uk>, Alexandre Passant <alexandre.passant@deri.org>, Richard Cyganiak <richard@cyganiak.de>, SKOS <public-esw-thes@w3.org>
Message-Id: <0CC953CD-683A-460F-94D4-5B57ACD9F100@ihmc.us>
To: John Graybeal <jbgraybeal@mindspring.com>

On Nov 5, 2009, at 2:19 PM, John Graybeal wrote:

> On Nov 5, 2009, at 1152, Pat Hayes wrote:
>> There seems to be a problem in the very heart of the SKOS design.  
>> Is it talking about things, or about concepts of things? Y'all  
>> really need to get this straight before proceeding.
> Let me use this as a way to propose an answer to the question, and  
> get a bigger answer to a related point that's been bothering me.
> Let's say SKOS is talking about names for things.

OK, though now we have three things in the mix instead of two  
(objects, concepts of objects, names of objects)

> This is once removed from the things, obviously -- "Mrs Obama" is a  
> name for the person, not the person herself -- but not the concept.   
> And "person" is a name for the type of thing of which "Mrs Obama" is  
> a name for an instance.

Right. And a type is a class, in OWLspeak.

> (There is a metaphysical discussion about the correspondence between  
> a 'name' and a 'concept', but I'd like to avoid it, as I don't think  
> it's central to your question.)

Um...OK, though Im getting more and more puzzled.

> So now I have said I have a name of a type of thing, and the name is  
> "person".  Can I say anything semantically that connects this name,  
> in a constructive and semantically-friendly and Pat Hayes-agreeable  
> way, to the semantic web resource that represents the concept of a  
> human being?  (Pick your favorite semantic web resource for  
> representing that concept, OK?)

Um. But you are still saying 'represents the concept of', and that  
circumlocution is where my mental comprehension engine breaks down. I  
have no idea what would represent a concept, or how to recognize one  
of them if I met it. I can have a URI which refers to (represents) an  
actual person, and I can have a URI which refers to the class of all  
people (or set of.. if you prefer). But I don't know how to refer to a  
**concept** of a person, on the semantic web or anywhere else.  
Moreover, Im not sure why I would want to do this, outside of a  
philosophy seminar. Mostly, I want to talk about people, not concepts.  
People I kind of understand; concepts are murky, theoretical things  
that hardly anyone can even define clearly, let alone individuate or  
refer to unambiguously. People have email addresses and spouses and  
friends: concepts have none of these.

BTW, you also are saying that a resource represents something, which  
sounds very odd to my ears. The (admittedly rather strange) usage of  
'resource' in W3C-speak is to refer to the things represented or  
described by representations like RDF and OWL, not to the  
representations or descriptions themselves. So if I have a URI, then  
it - the URI - **refers to** a resource, which might for example be a  
person or a galaxy or indeed anything whatsoever. Some of these  
'things' are representations, but most of them aren't.

> In other words, what is the correct way to connect the semantic web  
> to all of these thesaurus and dictionary entities?   (Which I am  
> here calling 'names', but elsewhere are called 'terms' and other  
> things, to the resource in the semantic web that you've picked above  
> (which for many people is associated with a 'concept', but I am  
> avoiding that term, hoping that 'resource in the semantic web' is  
> clearer).)
> I infer that you would like to say they are not concepts, which is  
> fine,

Its nothing to do with what I prefer to say. People, as a matter of  
simple fact, are not concepts. Whatever a concept is, it is something  
that can be grasped by a mental act. One can acquire a new concept by  
reading a book, for example. One cannot acquire a human being by  
reading a book.

> but then can we all agree on a paradigm for making the connection?

Between names and things, sure. We just need to be able to say that  
the name denotes the thing. Or, even better, we can just *use*  
(instead of mention) the name to refer to the thing. BUt that relates  
names to things. I have no idea where concepts would fit into this  


> John
> John Graybeal   <mailto:jgraybeal@ucsd.edu>
> Ocean Observatories Initiative Cyberinfrastructure Project: http://ci.oceanobservatories.org
> Marine Metadata Interoperability Project: http://marinemetadata.org

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Received on Friday, 6 November 2009 16:19:55 UTC

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