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   RE: A Light Rant On Ontological Commitment

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  • From: "Bullard, Claude L (Len)" <clbullar@ingr.com>
  • To: Martin Bryan <mtbryan@sgml.u-net.com>, xml-dev@lists.xml.org
  • Date: Tue, 19 Dec 2000 11:04:22 -0600

And DNA immortalizes itself in the shapes of protein folds, 
yet is itself, only a recipe of standard amino 
acids for proteins. (I say the folding problem isn't 
n-body, but another day...).

Yet DNA is choosy at the highest level of the 
system it engenders.  If you know what the 
original meaning of my last name is, you might 
understand my thought that the insight of 
husbandry is to find willing cows.  

We have to look at the ontological 
development process in some detail, and then 
back at the tools being offered us.  It isn't 
RDF or Topic maps that we have to choose first, 
but how and to what authority we commit.  

Borden is right to point out the issues of propriety 
of the results, and we have to assume that the 
systems we choose to implement must also have 
aspects of this.  The tools can only be as 
strong as the commitment to the ontology 
and that commitment attests to authority.

1.  How is the record created?
2.  How is the record attested?
3.  By what tests (observable behaviors) 
    do we measure commitment?
4.  By what means do we initiate or 
    terminate such commitment?

I do not wish to be simply whimsical, but 
the lesson of the Golem was its capacity to 
harm a community with its great power if 
it exceeded its authority as a servant of 
the community.  It is one thing to put 
the aleph in its mouth, quite another to 
remove it and return it to dust.


Ekam sat.h, Vipraah bahudhaa vadanti.
Daamyata. Datta. Dayadhvam.h

-----Original Message-----
From: Martin Bryan [mailto:mtbryan@sgml.u-net.com]

Nice one Len! I'll have nightmares at the next Ontological conference I

I came across the following snippet at a Digital Preservation conference
earlier this month:

It was Sir James Mackintosh (1765-1832) who first recorded the fact that
"Diffused knowledge immortalizes itself".

Q: What makes libraries different from the Internet?
A:There are always multiple copies of the stored data so that if one is
damaged you can get a copy from another source. (And you can compare copies
to identify any tampering with the facts!)


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