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   RE: [xml-dev] Beyond Ontologies

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It took some time to get back to this topic.

From: Didier PH Martin [mailto:martind@netfolder.com]

>a) Actually the web is based on an implicit or tacit ontology

Without quibling on the 'is' of the web (a topic that is approaching 
the silliness of late night comedy), I would say that there is no 
basis for the web in implicit or tacit ontologies.  There are people 
who have habituated themselves to certain sign/signified relationships 
and the web is a means of amplifying the speed of that habit forming 

>b) This ontology finds its physical incarnation with community clusters
>and their link structure. There is a relationship between words and

That relationship exists because people are creating it and then we 
are automating a discovery of what they created.

>c) Social networks and their related economics are also based on
>implicit or tacit ontologies. Call that, brands, constructs or whatever
>but, nonetheless, it exist in the mind of people as tacit ontologies and
>we refer to them either by constructs, brand or URLs.

Or Saussurean semiotics.

>A real semantic web revolution may happen if:
>a) Search engines publish their result in RDF, OWL or any other format
>that knowledge engine can process.

Again, this is not a revolution.  It is just more of the same kind 
of thing the marketing companies have done to us and with us via other 
media since cave painting.  They infer the sign/signfier relationship, 
then manipulate the presentation to manipulate the behaviors of the 

>b) there exist a corpus of relations between

These are made.  You are making the Platonic error of assuming these 
are real in the sense of 'from nothing'.  They are an output from a 
feedback mediated system in which the humans are the initiating source.

>Then in that case we can make some inferences. 

Certainly.  That is what semioticians do, marketing groups do, and so 
on.  Abduct.  Induct. Deduct.  And if they pick the wrong facts or 
induct the wrong relationships, they are faced with a probability of 
less success at influencing the behavior.  Listening is everything. 
Timing is the rest.

We can automate the heck out of it.  How predictive is it?

A University of Pennsylvania study published a fascinating study. 
When it comes to predicting conflict outcomes, role playing games 
(RPGs) beat game theory and statistical analysis three to one. For 
those who look at the semantic web and say, "so but so what", I look 
at it and say, "what a rich mine for feeding RPGs!" and realize that 
in combination with distributed online game systems (which, folks, 
are a generation or two beyond distributed hypertext or hypermedia depending

on your particular semantic community), this is an incredible area 
of innovation for commercial companies.  Keep the wetware productive. 
Blogs are just people thinking out loud.  Online gaming is people 
behaving together.  It is community building, socialization, 
and a very powerful means to predict and influence behavior.  Use 
the semantic web technology to feed metadata (situation semantics) 
to a massive RPG and you have a very powerful and influential web 

Len replied:
>>To some extent, yes, but the search engine is just an engine.  It is 
>>the feedback loop that creates the ontologies bottom up and then 
>>the direction those ontologies give to the direction of a search 
>>that is the nonlinear dynamic power.  Look for the intelligent selector.

>>One can do this with agents, yes, but so far, we are doing it with 
>>our own gray matter.  The web is indeed an amplifier, and its signal 
>>processing clearly demonstrates the effects of controlled feedback, 
>>and that is directed evolution if not a top down hierarchy as such. 
>>In fact, a top down directed evolution is precisely what I fear about
>>a so-called, semantic web.

Didier replies:
>I took my time to think seriously and hard about your statement that it
>is the feedback loop that creates the ontologies buttom up. I disagree.
>The ontology is there either implicit or tacit or explicit as in yahoo
>or DMOZ. The aggregation of URL around an
>attractor/concept/theme/keyphrase is simply based on "what this page is
>saying about itself" and "what the other are saying about this page".

Yes, and that is a feedback loop.  The ontology is emerging from the 
'what others are saying' because an ontology without a community of 
discourse is just a blog without context.   The machine can extract 
a faux ontology, but it requires agreement to become anything of interest.

The nonlinear systems effects that Roger is looking for are not in the 
web itself although it maps them much the way one maps nonlinear equations 
in n-dimensional graphics.  The web is not fractal; it maps fractal 
behaviors.  They are a result of the active interface between the 
humans who create information and the humans who consume information 
and then create more information.  The result is a drift in semantics 
which do have attractors, but which are mathematically, a lattice of 
theories.   The semantic web can be a means to equalize, tune or 
otherwise filter the signal being amplified, but it isn't the source, 
and if presented as that, that is a power grab by those who wish 
to control that signal.

As I've said before, 

"It's in the way that you use it." Eric Clapton and Peter Robertson



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