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Re: Should we say "data model"?

From: Karen Coyle <kcoyle@kcoyle.net>
Date: Tue, 29 Jul 2014 10:36:09 -0700
Message-ID: <53D7DB89.7080507@kcoyle.net>
To: public-rdf-shapes@w3.org

On 7/29/14, 8:57 AM, Bernard Vatant wrote:
> Dear all
> My first post to this forum. I've been following the conversation with
> great interest, as someone who has been, as many others around here it
> seems, hacking OWL for about ten years to express what boils down (in
> the software architecture my company is selling) to a kind of
> entity-relationship data model. Unless our customers are already
> familiar with OWL and ontologies (which is still the minority of them, I
> must admit), the easiest way to communicate about this piece in the
> architecture is to call it the "model" if nobody around has a background
> in formal logic or model theory where "model" has a quite different
> meaning. People familar with UML buy this quite easily.

Even people unfamiliar with something as formal as UML can often relate 
to pictures showing how their data "fits together." That's why we have 
white boards ;-).

Bernard, I'm glad that you bring up the issue of "who is the audience?" 
for this model (or whatever we wish to call it). There are multiple 
audiences, of course, throughout the flow that creates and uses the 
data. Some people will be subject experts but not data modeling experts, 
and will need a high level view of the model. The other extreme is the 
software developer, who needs a very precise definition of how the data 
is to be constrained. Can we do all of this with one standard? I don't 
know, but I will not be satisfied if we don't address the full range of 
needs: either by including them in the standard, or calling them out as 
necessary to make the standard efficacious.

>  From various posts in this conversation, I understand that the
> difference between an open world axiom/rule and a closed word constraint
> is more a question of interpretation than of formal structure. Does that
> mean that we are looking for something (language, format, whatever) that
> could be interpreted either with the open world assumption to support
> open world reasoning, and (exactly the same piece) interpreted in closed
> world applications as a constraint for interfaces or a validation rule?
> Thoughts?

I believe this came up once before ... but for some applications and 
some communities, open and closed can be very different, so a single set 
of defined constraints/axioms will not work. I give the library&archives 
community as an example: we may wish to constrain our data rather 
severely in our own silo, but in the open world our data will need to 
interact and combine with data that has, however, been constructed under 
very different circumstances. So on the open web library data needs to 
mesh well with the slap-dash data created by Amazon third-party sellers, 
or all of the various citation formats in academic bibliographies. We 
wouldn't want to carry over to the open world inferences derived from 
some of our arcane practices that no one else follows as those might 
interfere with some of the interactions we would like to foster "in the 

(I admit that I'm even questioning whether we in the GLAM community 
should expose our view of our data as LOD - when in the end many 
consumers of bibliographic data need nothing more complex than BibTeX or 
dcterms... but that's a different discussion for a different list.)

Karen Coyle
kcoyle@kcoyle.net http://kcoyle.net
m: 1-510-435-8234
skype: kcoylenet
Received on Tuesday, 29 July 2014 17:36:43 UTC

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