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RE: Ontology editor + why RDF?

From: Miller, Michael D (Rosetta) <Michael_Miller@Rosettabio.com>
Date: Fri, 31 Mar 2006 10:21:39 -0800
To: "Jim Hendler" <hendler@cs.umd.edu>, "Kashyap, Vipul" <VKASHYAP1@PARTNERS.ORG>
cc: public-semweb-lifesci@w3.org
Message-ID: <E1FPOFu-0007wE-DU@maggie.w3.org>
Hi Jim and Vipul,
"If all three of us published to the Web, and used common URIs (or a
third party expressed equivalences) then the system as a whole would
have the information..."
Just to echo what Jim is saying, the Life Science Identifier (LSID), a
type of URI, basically came to be based on the experience and need in
the MAGE specification for such a common identifier.  This has helped
tremendously already in linking information between gene expression
experiments, particularly in referencing the MGED Ontology and GO.
Michael Miller 
Lead Software Developer 
Rosetta Biosoftware Business Unit 

	-----Original Message-----
	From: public-semweb-lifesci-request@w3.org
[mailto:public-semweb-lifesci-request@w3.org] On Behalf Of Jim Hendler
	Sent: Friday, March 31, 2006 9:46 AM
	To: Kashyap, Vipul; Danny Ayers
	Cc: public-semweb-lifesci@w3.org
	Subject: RE: Ontology editor + why RDF?
	Vipul - not sure this is best thread for this whole discussion,
but here's a quick answer and if you want longer, I can point you to
various things starting from the Scientific American article [1] and
also an article on integrating applications on the Web that Tim, Eric
and I did, originally published in Japanese but available in English at
[2].  More detailed technical stuff is also available if you want, but
you should be familiar with that literature...
	 The point your missing, which I've been making for years, is
that on the Web "a little semantics goes a long way" -- here's a simple
example.  If you have a Database that says you live in Boston, I have
one that says I live near BWI airport, and Danny has one that has tables
of distances between airports and cities, but these all use their own
terminology and live in their own boxes, then none of the three of us
(nor any third party) would know how far apart you and I live.  If all
three of us published to the Web, and used common URIs (or a third party
expressed equivalences) then the system as a whole would have the
information - so there would be Semantics available on the Web that
would not be available before -- the "sameas" type information
(expressed through same URI names) is very powerful, even before you
start worrying about the next levels of semantics.
	 I'm not arguing that expressive semantics is bad, it is very
valuable in some applications, but the traditional AI community often
ignores the importance of breadth, despite Google rubbing our noses in
it every day.   Even more important, once the data is on the Web in RDF,
it can be INCREMENTALLY extended, by the original provider or by third
parties, in ways that do add the expressivity - something not doable
when the datasources are not Web accessible.
	 Here's another way to think about it - on the Web my documents
can point to your documents.  However, my databases (or their schemas)
cannot point at elements in your databases. my thesaurus cannot point to
words in your thesaurus, etc.   The Web showed us that the network
effect is unbelievably powerful, and we need to be able to use that
power for data, terminologies, ontologies and the rest. 
	 -Jim H.
	p.s. You might also want to check out my article "Knowledge is
power: the view from the Semantic Web" which appeared in AI Magazine in
the January 06 issue.  It's not available on line free to non-AAAI
members, but I can send you a preprint version if you'd like - it's
aimed at explaining the value of the linking stuff to the applied AI

	[2] http://www.w3.org/2002/07/swint

	At 8:08 -0500 3/31/06, Kashyap, Vipul wrote:
	>> I saw a quote not long ago, not sure of the source (recognise
	>> Jim?), approximately: "what's new about the Semantic Web
isn't the
	>> semantics but the web".
	>[VK] This is a great quote and expresses clearly that the value
	>     in representing and linking vocabularies using URIs stems
from the
	>     Web more than "semantics"
	>> I take VK's point that this in itself isn't going to convince
many IT
	>> folks. I think the big persuader there is data integration,
even on a
	>> sub-enterprise kind of scale.
	>[VK] Agreed, one of the clearer value propositions is data
	>> Being able to use ontologies to infer new information is a
	>> plus (I imagine especially in the lifesciences). Bigger still
are the
	>> (anticipated) benefits of the Semantic Web when the network
	>> kicks in. But the ability to use RDF to simply merge data
	>> multiple sources consistently (and query across it), without
	>> complete up-front schema design is a very immediate, tangible
	>> The work done around SKOS (and specific tasks like expressing
	>> in RDF) does suggest RDF/OWL is a particularly good
technology choice
	>> for thesauri.
	>[VK] Danny, has articulated some potential benefits:
	>     - Network effects
	>     - Schema-less linking based data integration
	>I would argue that both these benefits stem from the web
infrastructure and have
	>nothing to do with the "semantics" of anything per-se.
	>Also, one could argue that having a standardized markup
language whether it
	>be even HTML or XML enables the above to a significant extent.
	>So the value proposition question could be:
	>What is it about RDF that enables network effects and schema
less data linking
	>better than HTML, relational tables or XML in a more
significant manner?
	>Is the improvement enabled v/s the cost required to achieve it
an attractive
	>trade off?
	>Look forward to yours and the groups responses to these

	Professor James Hendler                   Director
	Joint Institute for Knowledge Discovery
	UMIACS, Univ of Maryland                    301-314-9734 (Fax)
	College Park, MD 20742
	Web Log: http://www.mindswap.org/blog/author/hendler
Received on Friday, 31 March 2006 18:22:00 UTC

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