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[ontac-forum] Map of Human Knowledge

To: ONTAC-WG General Discussion <ontac-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 04 Jul 2006 11:02:41 -0400
Message-id: <44AA8311.7090507@xxxxxxxxxxx>
I recently came across an interesting web site by Chaim Zins,
who has developed a map of human knowledge:    (01)

    Knowledge 2006: Maps & Portals to Human Knowledge    (02)

His illustrations are very pretty, and I think that his
classifications are about as good as any other.  They're
well thought out, and they're more comprehensive than
any of the formalized ontologies.  But it's not a formal
system that could support automated reasoning.    (03)

That illustrates the current state of the art:    (04)

  1. There are many interesting, but informal classifications
     of everything.    (05)

  2. Some of them are very well done, but none of them are
     sufficiently formalized to support automated reasoning.    (06)

  3. There are many interesting formal ontologies, but none
     of them cover as much ground as some of the best informal
     systems.    (07)

  4. Some of the formal and informal systems are clearly worse
     than others, but there are no good criteria for determining
     what a good classification could, would, or should be.    (08)

And most importantly,    (09)

  5. There is no evidence that an ideal comprehensive system
     of everything could exist that would subsume all the rest.    (010)

  6. Even if it should be possible to give an existence proof
     that an ideal classification is possible, there are no
     criteria for determining whether any particular system is
     on track toward that ideal or whether it is a dead end.    (011)

Therefore, my recommendation is that we keep all options open.
Encourage people to develop any versions of formal or informal
ontologies they may feel are valuable, and record them in a
metadata registry of options.  Then instead of trying to impose
any kind of de jure standard, allow de facto standards to evolve
out of patterns of usage -- i.e., show all the options, list all
the known advantages and disadvantages of each, and let the users
decide on local standards for a given subfield or set of tasks.    (012)

I believe that such a bottom-up evolution is practical for the
short term and theoretically sound for the long term.    (013)

John Sowa    (014)

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