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

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Peter and Michael are right.   Even if you have the 
technology to be shared for creating ontologies, the 
inherently local nature of meaning indicates that 
bottom up approaches are likely to dominate.  XML 
is successful precisely because it only constrains 
what is usefully sharable (mainly, syntax), and then 
utility drops off proportional to the size of the 
community of interest.

As to the syntax, XMLers like/tolerate XML and benefit 
from the sharable tools.  Otherwise, there is a near 
universal loathing of its verbosity particularly in 
some AI and ontology circles.  John Sowa lets fly about 
once a week on that topic.

I'm not an expert on the OWL/DAML, so no comments on the 


-----Original Message-----
From: Peter Hunsberger [mailto:peter.hunsberger@gmail.com]
Sent: Tuesday, November 09, 2004 9:14 AM
To: Garfield
Cc: xml-dev@lists.xml.org
Subject: Re: [xml-dev] Issues with XML and Semantic Web ?

On Tue, 9 Nov 2004 17:05:19 +0530, Garfield <xmlstar@gmail.com> wrote:
> Hi All,
> I apologize if this is not the target audience for this query. But if
> any of you feel that this is a question that is worth answering, do
> take a peek.
> I was running this long philosophical thought on the future of the
> Semantic Web and all the excitement that surrounds it.

If the question is philosophical and concerns the Web (in any form)
this is probably the best place I can imagine to ask it.  If you're
looking for practical advice you may have to spend a lot of time
reading between the lines...

> Between all
> this excitement, well, I just had a few questions on the following.
> 1) What are the significant open issues with the Semantic Web ?

The discussion here two (three?) weeks ago on "After XQuery, are we
done?" touched on many of the questions you ask here.  A side issue
that must be solved is "naming" vs. "pointing".  Michael Kay's
question as to why does one have to use any pointers at all to tell an
application that <postcode> means something hit's to the heart of the
problem.  One either has to have root Ontologies and a long chain of
discovery (local knowldge domain caches would help), or pointers (in
the abstract sense, read URL if you want to get into that debate). 
Pointers become domain specific or a maintenance issue.

> 2) Is the choice of XML as the syntactic representation of the data
> model a long term "right option" ?

Yes, for people who want to use XML.... ;-)   I can't really answer
this one other than to note that syntax seems to be the least of the

> 3) Your thoughts on the Complexity of the current ontology expression
> languages like OWL, DAML+OIL etc.

As I said, syntax seems to be the least of the problems.  The problem
is complex, the solutions will be complex, but every time I start
diving into any of this my head spins. There's got to be a better
> 4) Your thoughts on the adaptability curve for the Ontologies across
> Enterprises for the next couple of years and beyond.

I agree with Michaels comments, in particular the bit about the bottom
up approach being applicable.  The other thing I'll note is that the
Government has a vested interest in driving much of this.  One can
think of an Ontology infrastructure as being the Web equivalent of the
federal interstate system. It's a problem that needs to be solved on
the national scale and there is economic benefit as well as all the
indirect social (security, medical, you name it) benefit.  However,
the idea of the government being in charge of how universal knowledge
discovery is done scares the heck out of me, some form of public
oversight with real clout is needed.

Peter Hunsberger

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