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Quite. No one expects a single interlingua,
not before TBL or afterwards. These are the
well-known problems of ontologies. The better
authorities than TBL are people such as John
Sowa, Pat Hayes, etc.
Until you map a working ontology to a working database,
the practical aspects of size and modularity aren't
apparent. Only a novice builds a database with one
giant very wide table. On the other hand, ensuring
that one has used all of the terminology correctly to
name tables and columns, keeping these semantically
consistent, and avoiding full normalization that
can create performance problems is quite an art.
So the single upper level ontology that would span
cultures, users and space-time is a pipedream.
So no disagreement here.
XML works because it knows nothing of meaning.
Networks are predicated on the notion that the
choices are meaningless to the network (See
the first page of Shannon and Weaver's work.)
Notion one is reproducibility, not interpretability.
A meaningful network is almost an oxymoron. A network
of users dynamically negotiating and validating the
meaning of messages isn't.
From: Irene Polikoff [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
I believe the notion behind the semantic web is many fairly small,
intersecting ontologies. As described in TBL underground map:
http://www.w3.org/2003/Talks/0922-rsoc-tbl/slide23-0.html. Each colored line
in this diagram corresponds to an ontology. No single line visits all the
stations; but several stations are visited by more than one line.
Information is shared within one ontology to interoperate between, say, the
address book and events. Another ontology interoperates between events and
photos. The result is interoperation of addresses and photos. This is done
without requiring all stakeholders to agree upon a single interlingua that
covers all information silos at once.
I can't really see how one ontology could be practical even in much smaller
environment than Sem Web - such as a single company or a single department
within a company. Often, even a single application will require multiple
In theory, the modularity of ontology models should provide the flexibility
needed to accommodate different contexts. One could also only reference/use
part of an ontology - parts one can "agree with" - without committing to the
entire ontology. In practice, we are still figuring out how this will all