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[SKOS comment] Re: Call for Comments: SKOS Primer: W3C Working Draft 21 February 2008

From: Antoine Isaac <aisaac@few.vu.nl>
Date: Thu, 28 Feb 2008 14:52:35 +0100
Message-ID: <47C6BCA3.80609@few.vu.nl>
To: Azamat <abdoul@cytanet.com.cy>
CC: SWD WG <public-swd-wg@w3.org>, SKOS <public-esw-thes@w3.org>

Dear Azamat,

> I had this message several times. To ignore it might look impolite.

So would be ignoring your answer. However, to optimize the chances it 
gets a proper answer, I forward it to the two lists where people can 
react to it.

Please be aware that SKOS is mainly intended at practitioners in search 
of a standard solution to express different kind of controlled 
vocabularies in the Semantic Web. And practitioners are also involved in 
its design.
It is therefore no surprise that some parallels are drawn and some 
generalizations made, which do not fit the views of semanticists on the 
subject (which are in any case, I think, too many to be seamlessly 
reconciled, as your wikipedia quotations highlight it)

Notice in this respect that the problem originates in the scope of SKOS 
itself: the things that we aim at representing are very diverse: some 
classification schemes use "codes" and refer to "classes", thesauri have 
"terms" and so on.
Yet, it happens, looking at the way these things are used now and will 
be in the near future (with more and more links established between 
them), that (i) some standardisation has to take place, and that (ii) 
this standardisation can be actually grounded on some observed practical 
similarities (http://www.w3.org/TR/skos-ucr/)

Our aim is not to replace the original objects in their initial context 
of use, but to allow to port them to a shared space, based on a 
simplified model, enabling wider re-use and better interoperability.
This space is indeed new, and would call for new concepts (constructs?) 
and names: but how to grasp something like a 

This of course shall not allow us to make too broad assumptions or too 
loose wordings, and your mail may prove useful in this respect. But I 
don't expect that the gain with respect to application interoperability 
can be achieved without paying some sort of price with respect to 
theoretical purity.

Best regards


> Some brief comments on two basic assumptions.
> I.  ''SKOS  Simple Knowledge Organisation System  provides a model 
> for expressing the basic structure and content of concept schemes such 
> as thesauri, classification schemes, subject heading lists, 
> taxonomies, folksonomies, and other types of controlled vocabulary.''
> Here is a confusion of different entities: constructs and words 
> (terms). Besides, it is the domain of global ontology to cover all 
> sorts of controlled vocabulary. No need to invent the SKOS.
> II. ''The fundamental element of the SKOS vocabulary is the concept. 
> Concepts denote ideas or meanings that are the units of thought 
> [Willpower Glossary] which underly the KOSs used in a number of 
> applications [SKOS-UCR]. As such, concepts exist in the mind as 
> abstract entities which are independent of the terms used to label 
> them.''
> Here is a bad misunderstanding of the nature of semantics and its 
> basic notions; namely:
> 1. Vocabulary is a listing of words or the system of symbols and 
> techniques, and hardly it is a conceptual system.
> 2. No ''concepts denote ideas or meanings''. There is general semantic 
> rule: some symbols (signs) designate, while all constructs mean 
> something in the world. Then, symbols (or signs) designate constructs 
> (ideas, concepts, propositions, or theories), whereas the constructs 
> mean real things. So the ideas are expressed by words, which signify 
> the real entities to be named. Thus the meanings of ideas are 
> signified by words, not by concepts. We say significance of the symbol 
> and the meaning of the construct, what might be equivalent.
> 3. There are words (signs, symbols, terms, codes) which signify only 
> things in the world or only the ideas in the mind or both ideas and 
> things.
> 4. Concept is the unit construct, and the construct covers concept 
> (individual, class, relation), proposition, context, and theory.
> Summing up:
> If somebody is striving for semantic web, he must have a good learning 
> about the nature of meaning 
> (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meaning_%28linguistic%29 ) and the modes 
> of signification ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sign)determined by the 
> kinds of things signified and the kinds of things which signify 
> (signs, symbols, codes, terms, words).
> azamat abdoullaev
> more on semantics see
> http://www.igi-pub.com/books/details.asp?id=7641
> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Antoine Isaac" <aisaac@few.vu.nl>
> To: <semantic-web@w3.org>
> Sent: Wednesday, February 27, 2008 12:02 AM
> Subject: Call for Comments: SKOS Primer: W3C Working Draft 21 February 
> 2008
Received on Thursday, 28 February 2008 13:53:01 UTC

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