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   Re: [xml-dev] Earthly use of ontology

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[A very belated reply to this - catching up on various listservs]

This is something that I've often thought about. Oftentimes folks jump
right into (what I call) a "system representation" (whether it be a
schema, an e-form, etc.) of a domain/problem space without first
creating a ontology, or at least a conceptual data model (recognizing
that the 2 are not the same thing). I have done this myself, being under
the gun on a project where a client wanted the world in a very short
period of time. In the times that I have done this, more often than not
I had to go back and do some degree (though not a lot) of rework that
would not have been necessary had this important first step been taken.
For example, I would realize that I had represented the same entity in 2
different places either as the same element, or with 2 different (but
similar) element names. Having a conceptual data model and/or ontology
up front would probably have lessened (or eliminated) the chance of this

But one important factor to consider is time. Several weeks ago I sat on
an XML/Metadata panel convened by the U.S. Department of Homeland
Security (DHS) and I brought up this topic, stressing its high
importance. Another panel participant added the time factor, citing
experience with an emerging OASIS initiative (UBL). So I certainly see
Jon's point as well.

Kind Regards,
Joe Chiusano
Booz | Allen | Hamilton

Allen Razdow wrote:
> Fascinating discussions of what's beyond ontologies, but in a practical
> vein, I wonder if anyone shares the view that developing ontologies is
> useful as a step in the engineering of robust schemas?
> Someone said to me "everyone uses ontologies all the time, they just
> don't write them down."
> If you DO write down an ontology for a given domain, you can do so
> without worrying about readability, transformability, whether to make
> something an attribute, element or content and so forth.  These
> decisions should come easier once you have a handle on the ontology.
> Also, we suppose that having several schemata for different purposes
> makes more sense if they are all in correspondence with the ontology.
> I suppose its like developing an entity-relationship model of data
> before worrying about concrete schemas which must be normalized,
> efficient, etc.
> Anyone have experience with this?
> -Allen
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tel;work:(703) 902-6923
org:Booz | Allen | Hamilton;IT Digital Strategies Team
adr:;;8283 Greensboro Drive;McLean;VA;22012;
title:Senior Consultant
fn:Joseph M. Chiusano


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