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

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BTW to the original poster: a better place to 
ask this question would be one where the ontology 
experts hang out.  One such list is the 
Conceptual Graphs list.  cg@cs.uah.edu

Code lists are a productive place to start. 
This seems easy, but it isn't although it is the 
easiest of the problems once one gets past the 
syntax and terms of the semantic web app itself.
Industry lists have been around for years.  Getting 
those into formats that are readily processable is 
a step in the right direction.  Then 'to do what?'

Local doesn't always mean 'in our shop'.  An industry 
is a locale of sorts.  The mushiness is domain overlap. 
For instance, we sell systems with jail commissaries. 
Some of the terminology is local to the 'jail business' 
but the items sold are items obtainable in most 
commercial stores.  Then there are some items which one 
would only see in a detention or corrections facility 
but are nonetheless, items one obtains at the jail. 

This sorting of the domains if done well can provide 
good code lists, but then one implements say a dropdown 
that has members from multiple codelists.  Domain 
overlap (a domain subsuming multiple domains with 
some common members and slightly different definitions) 
and domain leakage (a member that is adopted from one 
domain into another with not so small differences in 
definition but the assumption of equivalence) are a 
part of the semantic drift problem.

If the semantic web has one very large hurdle, it is 
the very dynamic nature of meaning with regards to 
changing intent.  Do the best you can but no one 
can make time or meaning stand still.  YMMV.


From: Jeff Rafter [mailto:lists@jeffrafter.com]

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

Actually, in the MISMO (Mortgage Industry Standards Maintenance 
Organization, which is the agreed upon standards body in the United 
States for Mortgage Technology) working groups this has been coming up 
quite a bit. In its standards process MISMO maintains a data dictionary 
of terms that work across the industry, as well as a variety of 
structures (grouped in process areas and transactions) where these terms 
are used.

It seems like a perfect candidate for a top down approach of semantic 
description, possibly via OWL. To be honest on a macro level the problem 
seems tenable-- much like the examples floating around the web of the 
Wineries and wines, it seems like it would be pretty simple to develop a 
strategy for describing the data-points, and ultimately the way in which 
they can/should be used (even on a process/transaction basis). Maybe 
that is because I mentally skipped some things that were important to 

But as Michael said, there is a lot of resistance to terminology-- 
ontology, description logics, KR, etc.-- and we don't have enough 
experts from that domain (i.e., I am not an expert in that domain). 
There is also an ingrained need for ROI. Unfortunately, predicting ROI 
in this space is difficult because of a lack of visible successes. It 
would help if the media stopped focusing on what-if and started focusing 
on what-happened.

But ultimately it strikes me that the solution is somewhere in between 
the top-down and bottom-up approach. It would be really great if 
industry organizations such as MISMO created ontologies for their space 
and people could interact with them using their own local definitions 
and mapping them together using equivalence classes. Especially in the 
mortgage industry, if interfacing with a business partner was simply a 
matter of identifying like terms, and structure was invisible, then I 
think we will have made incredible progress. If you can eliminate the 
need for a programmer who understands the esoteric terms of the industry 
and enable the business experts to identify terms you will greatly 
reduce the time and money spent interfacing.

Perhaps this is a limited or wrong view of the Semantic Web. But it is a 
small step.


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