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

From: Mike Bergman <mike@mkbergman.com>
Date: Thu, 12 Nov 2009 19:16:15 -0600
Message-ID: <4AFCB35F.1060505@mkbergman.com>
To: Richard Cyganiak <richard@cyganiak.de>
CC: Ross Singer <rossfsinger@gmail.com>, Bernard Vatant <bernard.vatant@mondeca.com>, Antoine Isaac <aisaac@few.vu.nl>, Pat Hayes <phayes@ihmc.us>, SKOS <public-esw-thes@w3.org>

Richard Cyganiak wrote:
> On 12 Nov 2009, at 15:20, Ross Singer wrote:
>>> what predicate should poor
>>> Richard (and myself) use if we want nevertheless to express the fact 
>>> that
>>> his specific record/entry/heading/concept is a proxy in his system 
>>> for the
>>> person Michelle Obama?
>> One of the reasons why I wasn't sure why this thread is still going on
>> is because I thought there was an answer for this early on (that seems
>> to have been mostly ignored).
>> umbel:linksEntity is designed to do exactly this.
> I understand that umbel:linksEntity is designed exactly for this case. 
> But I'd feel uneasy about recommending the use of this property.

Yes, that is the design of this property. Per the full listing of 
the current UMBEL vocabulary [1]:

umbel:linksEntity is the inverse property of umbel:isAbout.

The specification defines umbel:isAbout as:

"The property umbel:isAbout is used to assert the relation 
between a named entity (individual) and a subject concept class. 
umbel:isAbout relates the named entity (individual) to the class 
through the basis of its subject matter. The relation 
acknowledges that the scope of the class can not be determined 
solely by the aggregation or extent of its associated individual 
entity members, and that the nature of the subject concept class 
may not alone bound or define the individual entity.

"Named entities may be related with multiple subject concept 
classes. The domain of umbel:isAbout defines its class 
description as the class of all individuals (owl:Thing) and its 
range as the class of subject concepts (umbel:SubjectConcept), 
thereby bounding the property's proper semantics of associating 
individuals to their related subject concept class(es).

"This property is therefore used to create a topical assertion 
between an individual and a subject concept."

Note that the specification also attempts to precisely define the 
umbel:SubjectConcept class, as well.

For the benefit of the SKOS ML, UMBEL is presently in version 
0.73, having gone through four upgrades since its initial 
release.  A version 0.80 has been announced and is pending.

All of the properties being discussed in this thread are 
presently given the status of:  Experimental - Unstable.

When we released UMBEL in July 2008, we did so with this caveat [2]:

"This version 0.70 release is based on versioning and numbering 
as presented in the supporting documentation. But, also, 
releasing with a version increment below 1.0 additionally signals 
the newness and relative immaturity of the system."

And put forward documented use expectations with the initial 
release [3] that elaborates on that sentiment. As editors, Fred 
Giasson and I continue to adhere to a practice that will only 
signal a commercial readiness of this system when it is given a 
1.0 or above version.

> Where is it used already? Any evidence of uptake in the RDF community? 
> Are the UMBEL folks engaging with the community to get greater buy-in? 
> Are the UMBEL folks in touch with the SKOS community to work towards 
> getting this into a future version of SKOS? Are there any people whom I 
> trust who endorse the use of UMBEL? What else do I “buy into” when I use 
> I'm not an early adopter type when it comes to this kind of vocabulary, 
> so I want to see some evidence of uptake...

We made early outreach to Alistair Miles in the first 
formulations of UMBEL, which he graciously declined because of 
his busy schedule, but with best wishes for the effort.

We early listed UMBEL as one of the SKOS vocabularies [4], in 
request to a project call, and then was the first project listed 
in the SKOS implementation report of May of this year [5]. We 
prominently promote SKOS in our documentation and writings.

Many of the members of the UMBEL discussion group [6], though 
that group has been somewhat inactive of late, are active within 
the SKOS community.

We continue to see UMBEL as a SKOS vocabulary, but feel it would 
be presumptuous to suggest that SKOS adopt UMBEL's (or portions 
thereof) vocabulary.  (My own view is that they serve quite 
different purposes, and SKOS has about the "right" level of 
vocabulary for its purpose.) If asked, we would be pleased to 
contribute and engage to whatever extent the SKOS community desires.

We, of course, remain convinced that many of UMBEL's attempts to 
find properties for linking concepts and entities and to find 
alternatives to the much abused sameAs are appropriate, as this 
entire thread affirms.

We also have floated some ways to apply metrics to similarity 
measures [1], though really have mixed feelings about the approach.

As for use, we use UMBEL regularly in our client work (with the 
appropriate caveats), and at various times it has been featured 
or not in some of the DBpedia stuff, depending on the whims of 
the developers. There is other use as documented in the 
discussion group [6]. Frankly, our use has been more the UMBEL 
vocabulary to date for domain ontologies than it has been as a 
subject reference structure.

However, I don't think uptake has been much, but then again 
coherent context has not been a strong suite of linked data to 
date. ;)

An earlier comment by Ross noted our "elevator pitch" as being 
about the "hairnet around a basketball" portrayal. I would agree 
that metaphor sucks. It was an early attempt and clearly does not 

However, that description is also buried at the bottom of the 
text of the 13th of 17 major links on the UMBEL Web site. If that 
statement is an "elevator pitch" (per VC use), then we certainly 
"buried the headline" (per journalist's use).

For accuracy on this mailing list, as stated in its first 
sentence in our Web site introduction [7], here is our actual 
"elevator pitch":

"UMBEL (Upper Mapping and Binding Exchange Layer) is a 
lightweight ontology structure for relating Web content and data 
to a standard set of subject concepts. Its purpose is to provide 
a fixed set of reference points in a global knowledge space. 
These subject concepts have defined relationships between them, 
and can act as binding or attachment points for any Web content 
or data."

As anyone who knows me personally can attest, I take language and 
communication very seriously.  We welcome any commentary on the 
discussion group about either how to describe UMBEL better or how 
its vocabulary can be improved.

Finally, as a personal note, I have to say that I find the 
gratuitously snide and superior tone of Richard and Ross's 
comments off-putting. If there are questions as to why some of us 
don't engage more on these forums, look only to the 
unprofessional aspects of some of the participants and their dialog.


[1] http://umbel.org/technical_documentation.html#vocabulary
[4] http://esw.w3.org/topic/SkosDev/DataZone
[7] http://umbel.org/intro.html

> Richard
>> -Ross.


Michael K. Bergman
CEO  Structured Dynamics LLC
Received on Friday, 13 November 2009 01:16:57 UTC

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