Re: Seeking Help with finding an assertion (resent by moderator)

Mark's attachment was too large for the mailing list. I have added the
attachment to the web:


-------- Original Message --------
Subject: [Moderator Action (size limit exceeded)] Re: Seeking Help with
finding an assertion
Resent-Date: Thu, 5 Jul 2007 09:05:41 +0200,	Thu, 05 Jul 2007 07:05:42 +0000
Resent-From: Ivan Herman <>
Resent-To: >> W3C Health Care and Life
Sciences IG <>
From: Mark Montgomery <>
Reply-To: Mark Montgomery <>
Organization: Kyield
To: Kei Cheung <>,	Skinner, Karen (NIH/NIDA) [E]
CC: public-semweb-lifesci hcls <>


You might want to review our flash demo on kyield ( ) as it deals with the broader
issues of being stuck with primitive systems- in this case the cost to
organizations, despite having better options for some time now. I've been
ranting about the costs of interoperability for many years, comparing it to
most other industries that have required standards rather than a situation
in IT where one historically had to request permission from competitors to
build a better mouse trap- not terribly conducive to real innovation.

The questions you raise touch on an issue even more important than just ls
r&d, which is the efficiencies/productivity of all learning individuals and
organizations- worldwide. One of the primary reasons I have been passionate
about these and related issues (and dedicated a large portion of my net
worth and time for over a decade), is precisely because I have not found a
more important issue affecting more important issues..... The potential for
accelerating learning and discovery is humbling.

In the attached soft business case I sent to members of congress,
cios, the wh, etc., I attempted to show in a diplomatic way both the
cost in
human lives as well as economic in a hypothetical case that looks amazingly
like katrina (for not having a strong k-system), but similarly most major
preventable disasters share commonality. A few months later, I was told in
large part due to this admittedly very soft piece (typically no credit
however), a national knowledge system for the fed gov made it to the wh
agenda for the first time (apparently a requirement for any multi agency
gov-wide system)- it took over a decade and several disasters- sadly and
very frustrating- irony of the date- the U.S. has not been a leader in
national k systems. We still haven't found a way to work with the U.S.
government- and have all but given up.

On an interesting parallel topic with some overlap, this article interviews
Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn that touches on the evolution of the underlying
internet and a bit on current work in progress.

If you come across good economic data and analysis dealing with the costs
associated with working with net or web 1.0, or a cost benefit analysis on
the semantic web or related, I would appreciate being pinged to its
as I have not been terribly impressed with what I've found. I am quite
confident that the real costs are far greater than almost anyone
(apparently) understands. You ask the right question imho. I do hope we
some satisfactory answers- to date I have not.

Kind regards, Mark

----- Original Message -----
From: "Kei Cheung" <>
To: "Skinner, Karen (NIH/NIDA) [E]" <>
Cc: "public-semweb-lifesci hcls" <>
Sent: Wednesday, July 04, 2007 10:12 AM
Subject: Re: Seeking Help with finding an assertion

> Hi Karen,
> Your questions remind me of the following classic article written by 
> Robert Robbins on "Challenges in the Human Genome Project".
> Although it doesn't directly answer the questions, in the "Nomenclature 
> Problems" section (p. 20-21), it discusses the significant problem of 
> inconsistent knowledge representation. It says that it's mistake to 
> believe  that terminology fluidity is not an issue biological in database 
> design. It also says that many biologists don't realize that, in a 
> database bulit with 5% error in the definition of individual concepts, a 
> query that joins across 15 concepts has less than 50% chance of returning 
> an adequate answer. The section also points out the importance of formal 
> representation of scientific knowledge in addressing the inconsistency and 
> nomenclature problems. Semantic Web and standard ontologies provide a 
> solution to these database problems. We just don't simply convert an 
> existing database syntactically into a semantic web format, but we also 
> need to do careful semantic conversion to eliminate as many errors, 
> ambiguities, and inconsistencies as possible in order to reduce the costs 
> of knowledge retrieval and discovery.
> -Kei
> Skinner, Karen (NIH/NIDA) [E] wrote:
>>Recently I read somewhere (on this list, a blog, a news story, where...?) 
>>an assertion that struck me as an interesting passing fact at the time. 
>>As I recall, it indicated that more websites are accessed via a search 
>>engine than by typing a URL into a browser web address bar.
>> Alas, I did not save the reference, and now I am looking for the 
>> proverbial needle in a haystack. Namely, what is the exact assertion, who 
>> asserted it, and where did they make it?  If anyone in the world has this 
>> information or knows how to get it, or or has related data, I imagine 
>> they would belong to this list. I would be most grateful for any useful 
>> pointer.
>> Along this same vein, if anyone has any statistics, data, anecodotes or 
>> information related to the cost of (1) "friction" arising from 
>> inefficient or inappropriate efforts at information retrieval
>>(2) the cost of "negative knowledge" about an existing resource or data,
>> these, too, would be helpful.
>> (For example, with respect to #2 above, we are all familiar with 
>> comparison shopping for goods and services. We seek data/information 
>> about prices and quality , but at what point does the expenditure of that 
>> effort exceed the value of the information learned?)
>> I am not looking for examples at the level of a philosophy or ecnomics 
>> Ph.D. thesis, but rather a few examples in the sciences that can be used 
>> at the level of an "elevator speech."
>> Karen Skinner
>>Deputy Director for Science and Technology Development
>>Division of Basic Neuroscience and Behavior Research
>>National Institute on Drug Abuse/NIH


Ivan Herman, W3C Semantic Web Activity Lead
PGP Key:

Received on Thursday, 5 July 2007 07:14:25 UTC