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   Re: local, global (was various ontology, RDF, topic maps)

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  • From: Uche Ogbuji <uche.ogbuji@fourthought.com>
  • To: "Simon St.Laurent" <simonstl@simonstl.com>
  • Date: Wed, 20 Dec 2000 09:13:38 -0700 (MST)

> There have been a few discordant notes - Uche Ogbuji notes that
> multi-lingual understandings are very difficult, while Martin Bryan brings
> up the changing classification of opium in medicine.  On the other hand,
> there seems to be enthusiasm (both here and more strongly at XML 2000) for
> universal ontologies as a whole, enthusiasm which I'm deeply uncertain is
> warranted.


> I'm very happy with a lot of the work I see in Topic Maps, RDF, schemas,
> and other information modeling systems.  I'm deeply unhappy, however, with
> the strange visions of a Grand Unified Information Model (GUIM) they seem
> to produce in some people.  I'd like to take something of an Extreme
> Programming view on this project, evolving vocabularies and architectures
> from pieces which we can make work today without nearly as much concern for
> the larger vision set forth in the various requirements of the GUIM.  I
> don't think it will lead us directly to the GUIM, but it might let us get
> more work done in the meantime.

I certainly agree with your viewpoint, but I can't identity any GUIM
practitioners from the discussions we've been having.  I didn't meet all
the folks you did at XML 2000, and it sounds as if I missed a few spicy
sessions, but I think that most people with whom I've been seriously
talking about ontologies are pragmatists.

I myself have mentioned many times that my observations apply to closed
systems and that I don't claim any insight into how to make something like
a semantic Web work.  My perception is that Len, Martin and Jonathan don't
make much more radical claims.

The record of authority is the key, as Len pointed out.  It pretty much
defines the scope of the model.  I'm skeptical of a record of universal
authority: I don't think even ISO BSR represents such ambition (note the
"basic" in the name).

Just in case, I should mention that there is no GUIM in the idea of
layering the Topic map model on RDF.

I'm still quite interested in hearing the whole "semantic Web" story.  I'm
sorry I missed the XML 2000 session because I'd like to learn what the
true ambition is, and the practical developments required before it can be

I don't suppose there's any chance for someone to set up a panel discussion
at some conference with TBL, Len, Martin, Howard Smith and a few other clever
folk.  I'd hitchhike to go see it.

Uche Ogbuji                               Principal Consultant
uche.ogbuji@fourthought.com               +1 303 583 9900 x 101
Fourthought, Inc.                         http://Fourthought.com
4735 East Walnut St, Ste. C, Boulder, CO 80301-2537, USA
Software-engineering, knowledge-management, XML, CORBA, Linux, Python


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