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Re: ALL: philosophy of SWBPD (was Re: [OPEN] and/or [PORT] : a practical question)

From: Jim Hendler <hendler@cs.umd.edu>
Date: Thu, 25 Mar 2004 11:06:30 -0500
Message-Id: <p06020416bc88b05d5dd8@[]>
To: Christopher Welty <welty@us.ibm.com>
Cc: Bernard Vatant <bernard.vatant@mondeca.com>, Ian Horrocks <horrocks@cs.man.ac.uk>, Jeremy Carroll <jjc@hplb.hpl.hp.com>, SWBPD <public-swbp-wg@w3.org>, public-swbp-wg-request@w3.org
[snipping to some points]

If you study something, e.g. representation and reasoning algorithms, 
for a long time, you will become an expert in that and be able to 
understand and perceive things that people without that experience 
won't.  I'm not sure why there is this pervasive belief that this is 
not true for ontology design.  We have fairly good representation in 
this group from the community that has been studying that for the 
last 10-20 years, and <big surprise> we have learned some things. 
 And <big surprise> you're going to hear about it.

Chris, I've been a KR&R researcher for longer than anyone else in 
this group (unless Pat joins) and have the bona fides to prove it, 
and yet I often disagree w/folks like you and Ian as to what are 
"mistakes" and what are preferences -- I think this has a lot to do 
with the fact that the best practices in theory are often different 
from the best practices in applications, and I just want to make sure 
we don't use the wrong guide posts in trying to help people build 
working, rather than theoretically pure, systems.  You also have 
experience in fielding systems, so I believe when we disagree the 
hope will be we explain both rationales, rather than dueling it out.

>   My big fear for this WG is that we're going to somehow "endorse" 
>certain kinds of
>  representation and say other folks are somehow making errors

Your fear is my hope, though I'm not interested in the "who".  Just 
explaining what's good and what's bad.

under what criteria?  As long as we specify the  criteria set we're 
working against when we call something "bad" then I'm okay   - I 
don't think KR is completely (or, frankly speaking, even nearly) a 
science, and there's a tendency on our part to try to push it too 
hard in that direction -- but every "theory of representation" 
developed to date has proved to be flawed, and most of us in the 
field admit there's a certain "art" to getting it right -- and 
crticizing someone else's art is moving in a dangerous direction, 
esp. on the Web.

>  - yet on the web,
>  different people with different opinions about representation will 
>all need to use
>  the languages, we must be careful not to be like the "soup nazi"s 
>in the Seinfeld
>  show [1] who get to dictate who gets their soup and who doesn't 
>based on some set
>  of rules that no one else understands...

Certainly this idea of desribing best and worst practices could be 
carried too far.  I agree we must be careful.  But you have been 
saying this so much it's starting to sound like "don't do it at all".

well, for what it is worth, I am on the record in the early days of 
planning this activity as advocating not having a modeling TF  -- I 
was overruled, however, and thus will work hard to make sure we do 
the best we can anyway

>   Seriously, I think the BPD will do a great service if we explain 
>the issues and
>  the advantages and disadvantages of various representations - but 
>if we start to
>  dictate one way or the other as "correct" then we will be doing a 
>disservice to the
>  community and will not be helping to deploy the semantic web.

I suspect you mean to emphasize the "one" there.  And I agree with 
that, absolutely.  There are often many correct ways to model the 
same thing, and there are many incorrect ways.

Since I agree w/this last statement, I'm going to be happy to drop 
this -- consider it simply my trying to make it clear to the group 
where I see some potential pitfalls -- I'm not so much trying to 
convince anyone of anything as setting the groundwork for future 
objections :->

Professor James Hendler			  http://www.cs.umd.edu/users/hendler 
Director, Semantic Web and Agent Technologies	  301-405-2696
Maryland Information and Network Dynamics Lab.	  301-405-6707 (Fax)
Univ of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742	  240-277-3388 (Cell)
Received on Thursday, 25 March 2004 11:12:03 EST

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