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Re: [ontac-forum] Future directions for ontologies and terminologies

To: ONTAC-WG General Discussion <ontac-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 30 Dec 2005 21:41:57 -0500
Message-id: <43B5EFF5.9020600@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Azamat,    (01)

On that point, we are in complete agreement:    (02)

> My basic point is here very simple: without proper
> respect of the classic ontological works, their most
> productive insights and finds, we are doomed to be
> complementary, confusing, misleading, or conceptually
> trivial.    (03)

The problem we face, however, is to find a strategy
that balances the short-term needs for practical
implementations with the long-term scientific and
philosophical goals.    (04)

That has several implications:    (05)

  1. We have to face the fact that there is no current
     consensus and little chance of getting one soon.    (06)

  2. Even if all the theoreticians could come to an
     agreement, the new standard would have to coexist
     for many decades with trillions of dollars of
     legacy software, databases, web sites, etc., each
     of which has a totally different ontology, usually
     implicit and difficult or impossible to convert.    (07)

  3. Legislating a single choice can result in freezing
     today's short-term solutions in a form that can become
     tomorrow's long-term disasters.  (Examples are IBM's
     1964 blunder of adopting EBCDIC instead of ASCII,
     IBM's 1981 blunder of adopting the Intel chip instead
     of the Motorola chip, and Microsoft's 1981 blunder
     of freezing the 640K boundary into DOS.)    (08)

  4. Independent of the choice of standard, there will be
     a major need for analysis, migration, coexistence,
     and conversion tools to and from past, current, and
     future systems.    (09)

  5. If the tools in #4 are well designed, they could
     support interoperability with and among legacy
     systems as well as the inevitable modifications,
     revisions, and updates to the standard.    (010)

  6. If the tools and methodology for using them are well
     designed, they could also be used to manage an interim
     transition period with multiple cooperating or competing
     ontologies before a single optimal ontology has been
     selected.    (011)

Given this analysis, my proposal for a plurality and other
proposals for a single standard differ on only one question:
How long will the interim period last?  I don't believe that
anybody today knows, but whether it's short or long, good
tools will be needed, and the planning for them should be
started now.    (012)

John    (013)

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