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[ontac-forum] ONTACWG and Discussions on fundamental ontology issues

To: "ONTAC-WG General Discussion" <ontac-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Cassidy, Patrick J." <pcassidy@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 19 Dec 2005 14:14:19 -0500
Message-id: <6ACD6742E291AF459206FFF2897764BE74B32F@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
ONTACWG members -
 Two topics:
    (1) recommendation to move general discussion about ontology to the
IEEE-SUO listserver;
    (2) summary of status of current ONTACWG projects.    (01)

*** General discussions ***
   A number of members have dropped out of this working group
discussion list, and I have had comments from members about the large
volume of postings that are not directly relevant to the purpose of
this group.  Discussions of fundamental issues in ontology, knowledge
representation, semeiotics, and related topics are of great interest to
a lot of people, and there is already an active discussion of such
issues that is being conducted on the IEEE-SUO listserver.  I would
recommend that such discussions be conducted on that server, and any
participant in those discussions could provide the ONTACWG with an
occasional summary of the points that seem most relevant to the ONTACWG
mission.   The mission is described in the charter:    (02)

gWG    (03)

The IEEE-SUO listserver address is:  standard-upper-ontology@xxxxxxxx    (04)

Information on how to subscribe to that list is at:
     http://suo.ieee.org/SUO/howToParticipate.html     (05)

The basic subscription method is to send a message to:
    LISTSERV@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx    (06)

   . . . with the body message: SUBscribe standard-upper-ontology    (07)

Various options such as getting a digest instead of individual
postings, are explained on the information page referenced above.      (08)

The archives of those discussions are available at:
-------------------     (09)

Many of us subscribe to more than one listserver, and a division of
labor among listservers is essential to avoid clogging e-mail inboxes.
I think it would be  valuable if some participant in the more general
ontology discussion at IEEE-SUO could post a summary (perhaps once a
week?) of any consensus that is reached on any of those issues.  The
work of the ONTACWG itself is expected to proceed primarily by
individual and smaller working group efforts, with summaries of results
posted to the general list.  All working groups are open to any ONTACWG
member.  The working groups conduct the detailed discussions of
specific tasks, which would not be of interest to those who have not
joined the individual working groups.   For that reason, routine
discussion of issues that concern mostly subgroups should not be posted
to the general ONTACWG discussion list, but to the subgroup mailing
list.  Conclusions of interest to a wider audience can be posted
periodically to the general list.    (010)

The general discussions of basic issues on the ONTACWG list have
touched on topics that are very much related to the question of how to
create effective knowledge representations, but the immediate focus of
the ONTACWG is much narrower, with a near-term goal to create
information artifacts that will be useful to help people create
knowledge classification systems and relate them to each other.  The
distinction between **related** topics and **relevant** topics needs to
be recognized; many topics are **related** to knowledge representation,
but **relevance** of discussions depends on how well they serve to
advance a particular goal.  This distinction is part of the charter of
ONTACWG (reference above):    (011)

"The focus of this working group will be on the actual construction and
use of knowledge classification systems. Discussion of basic principles
and theoretical issues will be an important aspect of the collaborative
effort, but should in general serve to address specific questions about
particular elements in one of the knowledge classifications maintained
by the group or its members.    (2QPK)"    (012)

Accordingly, the discussion on the general list should pertain to
specific Knowledge Classification Systems(KCSs), development tools, or
specific applications of KCSs in existence or under development.  The
members themselves will decide what is **relevant** to those tasks.    (013)

In exceptional cases, individuals who consider their postings relevant
may differ from the majority opinion in that respect.  One example
occurred recently, when one member received complaints from others
about the relevance of his postings and requested a vote of the
membership.  The vote was taken, and of over 120 ONTACWG list members,
three expressed an interest in continuing to see such comments.  This
should serve as a clear indicator that general discussions of such
topics should be conducted in other fora.  The IEEE-SUO forum is one
where ontology issues can be discussed.    (014)

At this point we are still depending on the good judgment of
individuals to recognize when postings do not directly advance the
goals of the ONTACWG, or simply are not welcomed by the majority of the
membership.  Responses to comments made by individuals can be made
directly to those individuals if it deals with a special topic not
likely to be of interest to more than a few members.  It will be very
inconvenient of it becomes necessary, due to excessive postings, for
this open list to be changed to an administered list.  That alternative
would depend on a decision of a vote of ONTACWG members.    (015)

***************  ONTACWG  Status
**********************************************    (016)

To summarize the current status of ONTACWG projects as of December 19,
   At the October 5th organization meeting, there were three tasks
selected as the initial focus for the efforts of the ONTACWG:    (017)

(1) To maintain a web site with resources for Knowledge Classification
System development and interrelation, and pointers to resources
existing elsewhere.  Those resources and pointers will be provided by
individuals on their own initiative, and no organized effort is as yet
ongoing, though one could be created if any ONTACWG member is willing
to take the initiative in this regard.
  ** The pointers are maintained on the PointerPage:    (018)

interPage    (019)

  ** Individual resources (some not available elsewhere) are located on
the reference page:
      http://colab.cim3.net/file/work/SICoP/ontac/reference/    (020)

     To place resources on the reference page (password-protected for
upload), send them to me and I will upload them; this is primarily for
resources that are not available elsewhere on the Web.  The PointerPage
is a Wiki that can be modified by any member.    (021)

(2) To provide a list of suggestions for builders of registries for the
types of metadata that would be useful for indexing Knowledge
Classification Systems and their relations to each other.  A
sub-working group has been formed, and Dagobert Soergel has taken the
lead on this effort, and those interested in assuring that registries
will properly serve the needs of communities such as ONTACWG should
contact him for 
information.    (022)

(3) To adopt or attempt to build a Common Semantic Model, which would
be an upper ontology or lattice of ontologies that can provide precise
specification of meanings of terms and concepts in any domain Knowledge
Classification System.  If the ONTACWG community is large enough to
provide a wide and representative base of developers and users of such
a standard of meaning, so that its functionality can evolve over time,
it could become a means for enabling a high level of semantic
interoperability among those KCSs using it as the means to specify the
meanings of their terms and concepts.    (023)

   Discussions concerning the Common Semantic Model (COSMO) should be
conducted primarily among the members of the COSMO-WG, which is open to
participation from all ONTACWG members.  The notice from October 8th
about the COSMO-WG is appended below.  The home page for the COSMO-WG
is at:
That page has pointers to other pages related to that task.  A proposal
for the general direction of this effort, as well as other ONTACWG
efforts is discussed in the ONTACWGworkPlan-3.doc in the directory:
This proposal was created as the result of a meeting of ONTACWG members
who attended the NCOR inauguration event in Buffalo on October 27th.    (024)

There has been discussion on both the COSMO-WG list and the general
list of issues related to the COSMO, such as John Sowa's suggestion for
a "Unified Framework" (UF).  One proposal for the core of such a UF was
made by myself (see
http://colab.cim3.net/cgi-bin/wiki.pl?CosmoWG/TopLevel), but there have
been no specific suggestions for modifications to that core.  There has
been no discussion on the COSMO-WG mailing list since Thanksgiving.    (025)

(4) Other    (026)

The ONTACWG is a volunteer effort.  To my knowledge, no member is
specifically funded to participate in this project.  Obtaining funding
for these efforts would help speed up the work, and suggestions for
likely sources of funds and how to get them will be welcome.    (027)

Substantive and relevant suggestions concerning any of the ongoing
ONTACWG projects, or suggestions for specific new initiatives, are
welcome.  If it pertains to work that is the topic of one of the two
sub-working groups (Registries or COSMO-WG), such suggestions should be
made to those groups.  Of course, any issue likely to be of interest to
a large number of ONTACWG members can be posted to the general forum.
For most subscribers to the ONTACWG list, we have only e-mail
addresses, but it is clear that the membership is very diverse.    (028)

Pat    (029)

Patrick Cassidy
MITRE Corporation
260 Industrial Way
Eatontown, NJ 07724
Mail Stop: MNJE
Phone: 732-578-6340
Cell: 908-565-4053
Fax: 732-578-6012
Email: pcassidy@xxxxxxxxx    (030)

*****  COSMO-WG notification
***    (031)

 =========  COSMO-WG notification from 10-8-2005 ===============
ONTACWG:  Common Semantic Model Working Group    (032)

One of the sub-working groups of ONTACWG that was formed at the Oct.
5th meeting was the Common Semantic Model (COSMO) Working Group
(COSMO-WG, until a better name is suggested).  There were a number at
the meeting who did not indicate an interest in participating in the
subgroup who will look into the issues of what Common Semantic Model to
adopt, and how to do it; so I would suggest that these discussion be
conducted by email among the subgroup, rather than by email to the
whole list.  But the discussions will be open, and if anyone wants to
just lurk and listen to the email discussions about the Common Semantic
Model send a note to myself or the list, and your name will be added to
the circulation list for those notes.    (033)

We have begun to discuss how to approach the question of deciding on a
COSMO, so if you have any interest in participating, please let me know
ASAP.  Members may join or leave at any time, but we will want to make
some progress as soon as possible, and some decisions may have to be
made soon.     (034)

Current members of the WG are: 
Eric Peterson; Dagobert Soergel; Roy Roebuck; Olivier Bodenreider; Pat
Cassidy; Antoinette Arsic; James Schoening; Gary Berg-Cross; Adam Pease    (035)

If your name is not on this list and you want to participate or listen
in, send me a note.  There is one remote participant who indicated an
interest, but the name was not clear over the telephone; please let me
know who you are.    (036)

========== End copy of 10-08-2005 note =============================    (037)

Pat    (038)

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