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RE: Open Library and RDF

From: Young,Jeff (OR) <jyoung@oclc.org>
Date: Sun, 15 Aug 2010 17:52:55 -0400
Message-ID: <52E301F960B30049ADEFBCCF1CCAEF5909591B5D@OAEXCH4SERVER.oa.oclc.org>
To: "Thomas Baker" <tbaker@tbaker.de>, "Karen Coyle" <kcoyle@kcoyle.net>
Cc: <gordon@gordondunsire.com>, <public-lld@w3.org>
Tom Baker wrote:
> On Sat, Aug 14, 2010 at 03:19:36PM -0700, Karen Coyle wrote:
> > >Is everyone involved in the process happy with this?
> >
> > This depends on what you mean by "involved in the process"? The FR
> > committees and JSC (developers of RDA) are in accord on this
> > principle, but there is considerable dissent in the US library
> > community, in particular from specialist communities who tend to
have
> > different definitions of what constitutes a W,E,M. These differences
> > are simmering in the background because as yet there is no
> > implementation of FRBR as a data carrier. If this "strong" view of
> > WEMI is constrained in the carrier, some folks are not going to be
> > able to create metadata that expresses their community view.
> 
> Or as Halpin and Hayes put it [1]:
> 
>     Just because a construct in a knowledge representation
>     language is prescribed a behavior using formal semantics does
>     not necessarily mean that people will follow those semantics
>     when actually using that language "in the wild".  This can
>     be laid down to a wide variety of reasons.  In particular,
>     the language may not provide the facilities needed by people
>     as they actually try to encode knowledge, so they may use a
>     construct that _seems_ close enough to their desired one.
>     A combination of not reading specifications -- especially
>     formal semantics, which even most software developers and
>     engineers lack training in -- and the labeling of constructs
>     with "English-like" mnemonics naturally will lead to the use of
>     a knowledge representation language by actual users that varies
>     from what its designers intended.  In decentralized systems
>     like the Semantic Web, this problem is naturally exacerbated.
> 
> This suggests that it might be wiser, 

The Semantic Web didn't make sense to me until Linked Data came along.
As someone who sees the light and is passionate about grasping the
opportunity, I'm worried about this "it might be wiser" assertion. UML
is like mental floss which encourages me to assume disjoint classes.
When I use UML to model other people's thoughts they seem to "see" that
such conflations create serious communication/reusability problems. If
no effort is made to systematically differentiate concepts, people never
even realize the communication/reusability problems are being created
and persisted. 

The discipline and relationships between UML and OWL/RDF reveal things
about one another and the models they represent. I wish SW experts
understood UML better and vice versa. I hope LLD XG takes time to look
at its conceptualizations from both perspectives.

> especially with a
> relatively untested language such as FRBR, to follow the
> principle of minimal ontological commitment [2]:
> 
>     An ontology should require the minimal ontological commitment
>     sufficient to support the intended knowledge sharing
>     activities. An ontology should make as few claims as possible
>     about the world being modeled, allowing the parties committed
>     to the ontology freedom to specialize and instantiate the
>     ontology as needed. Since ontological commitment is based on
>     consistent use of vocabulary, ontological commitment can be
>     minimized by specifying the weakest theory (allowing the most
>     models) and defining only those terms that are essential to
>     the communication of knowledge consistent with that theory.

Voltaire said, "If you wish to converse with me, define your terms."
FRBR defines the terms and I think most experienced librarians can
understand and appreciate them. What librarians aren't so sure of is how
to express those terms in OWL or "equate" them with other generalized
conceptualizations. Metamodels are funny that way.

> I take you to be saying that the official "strong" view
> reflects a specialized view of one part of the community.

IMO, the most important point of FRBR is to establish WEMI as disjoint
classes. The class named "Book" isn't as practical in the modern world
as it used to be. ;-)

> Do the FR and RDA committees anticipate that the vocabularies
> will only be used by (and of interest to) bibliographic
> experts with MLS degrees?

I hope FR and RDA models can be implemented as infrastructure so people
don't generally need to think about them anymore. I'm reassured that
everything is an owl:Thing despite the fact that few people realize it.

>  Do they not anticipate that
> commercial companies, government agencies, or other types of
> organizations might want to embrace FRBR concepts and adapt
> them to their needs?  Raising the bar ontologically would
> help ensure that their use is limited to controlled contexts
> (or at any rate used incorrectly outside those contexts).
> Or is that perhaps the point?

I agree that the FRBR family needs to be defined carefully in OWL to
avoid becoming a semantic backwater. I wish it was clearer why this is
important.

Jeff

> 
> Tom
> 
> [1] http://events.linkeddata.org/ldow2010/papers/ldow2010_paper09.pdf
> [2] Gruber, Thomas. 1995. Toward Principles for the Design of
>     Ontologies Used for Knowledge Sharing. International
>     Journal Human-Computer Studies 43(5-6): 907-928.
> 
> --
> Thomas Baker <tbaker@tbaker.de>
> 
Received on Sunday, 15 August 2010 21:53:28 UTC

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