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   Re: [xml-dev] Issues with XML and Semantic Web ?

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On Tue, 9 Nov 2004 17:05:19 +0530, Garfield <xmlstar@gmail.com> wrote:
I'm only going to address one point;

> 4) Your thoughts on the adaptability curve for the Ontologies across
> Enterprises for the next couple of years and beyond.

I'm assuming you're asking about the rate of adoption of ontologies in
actual enterprises?

If so, this is a very interesting question.  First, Ontologies are
unlikely to get much traction, IMHO, as long as they are called
"ontologies", and one is forced to be conversant with formal
semantics, formal logics, etc. in order to use them in an enterprise
IT project.   Somehow this approach has to be repackaged in a way that
rests cleanly on the foundation of  semantic web theory/technology,
but exposes only those concepts (and terminology) that are accessible
to ordinary mortals.

Second, somehow the process of building usefully large but consistent
enterprise ontologies must be made more feasible.  I'm not sure how
possible this is in principle (GoŽdel had something to say along these
lines?)  but presumably most enterprises have enough structured
information in their glossaries, data dictionaries, business
processes, and existing IT operations that can be captured and
usefully reasoned about .... given time.  Technology can only automate
the tedium of humans doing, not take garbage in and spit consistent
ontologies out.   Will technologies that effectively support what
humans need to  do to make this happen come onto the market?  I see
some hopeful signs, but I don't think Protege even comes close to
being useful to the kinds of people who will have to do this in the
mainstream world.

Third, if ontology-building is a top-down approach to supporting
semantics, there's a question of whether the bottom-up approach of
making sense of things by induction will actually work better.  (The
eternal induction vs deduction debate ...).  See, for example
'Sony Computer Science Laboratory is positioning its "emergent
semantics" as a self-organizing alternative to the W3C's Semantic
Web'.  The bottom-up approaches (e..g. the Google approach to web
serarch, the SpamBayes approach to spam filtering) seems to be awfully
good at hitting 80:20 points in the real world while the top-down
approaches are still research projects.  I am personally convinced
that the bottom-up approach will continue to rule in massively
unstructured domains such as the web and email; I'm not so sure that
the top-down ontology building might not be more efficient in
situations where there is a lot of semantic structure (e.g. enterprise
IT shops) but it just has to be captured and exploited.  Nevertheless,
both seems quite viable at the moment, and different companies are
betting on one, the other, or both.  It may be that the rate of
adoption of ontologies will be stifled by early successes from the
bottom-up approach in real enterprise applications.


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