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Re: Re: Syntax + object model

object model lisp
Simon St.Laurent wrote:

> jonathan@o... (Jonathan Borden) writes:
> >What I am saying is that you are not making -- what I consider -- a
> >fair or valid statement about ontologies *in general* as opposed to
> >the above two projects.
> I disagree, but since you cut my discussion of specific ontologies,
> there isn't much further to say.  Hang out at knowledge tech conferences
> and listen, and you'll find plenty of rhetorical overreach.  I'll be the
> jerk reading Feyerabend in the corner.

Since I've not ever been to a KT conference, I'll take your word for it --
on the other hand similar rhetorical overreach was common in the heyday of
XML conferences as well. In neither case does it mean that there isn't a
core reality to both technologies.

> >For what I consider a significant class of problems, ontologies *are*
> >the right answer for vocabulary development for XML. (e.g., see:
> >http://www.cogsci.princeton.edu/cgi-bin/webwn)
> Sure, for word searches, that's great.  If I just want to mark up a
> document or an invoice, I'm not nearly as excited about that vision.

If the documents are components of a patient's healthcare record, I get
pretty excited about that vision. Similarly folks like John Cowan might get
excited about similarly marking up news stories related to heathcare. The
National Library of Medicine has done a great job 'marking up' biomedical
scientific articles using such a vision (i.e.:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?db=PubMed), now you may call
that 'word search' but that is what google etc. are all about -- which alot
of folks find pretty important -- of course I am not claiming (hardly) that
ontologies encompass all of computer science, just to point out that there
is a large and widely acknowledged as important class of problems that
benefit from an ontologic approach. Since those problems also lend
themselves to using XML as a document interchange format, the intersection
between XML and ontologies is significant.

> >When you write about
> >"ontologists" coming 'round xml-dev, I wonder who you are talking
> >about? I don't consider myself an "ontologist" though I'm involved
> >with ontologies -- I don't know of any real ontologists who post
> >regularly on xml-dev, though perhaps there are a few who read it.
> I suspect 'real' ontologists have better things to do.  Still, about
> once a month, we get people here who talk about RDF as the right way to
> do vocabularies.  Roger Costello's recent piece on OWL was fairly
> memorable, and it's been a popular trend lately.

Are you suggesting that Roger's posts are offtopic?

> Maybe it's just the
> latest version of RDF condescension toward XML?

It is an all too common misconception that RDF is about ontologies.
Admittedly there are relationships between RDF Schema and OWL, but the
primary relationship between _RDF_ and OWL is that OWL is a language encoded
in RDF _syntax_. You might gasp at that choice of syntax -- and it has been
a somewhat controversial one as evidenced by discussions of the OWL WG --
but nonetheless RDF and hence RDF/XML is the official syntax in which the
OWL language is interchanged. There are other presentation syntaxes for OWL
including non-RDF XML (see:

In any case I hardly detect any sort of "RDF condescension toward XML" in
Roger's posts. I *have* heard XML condescension among discussions involving
senior computer scientists who, for example, prefer s-expressions etc., but
this is a really tough group -- what can one say? ***


*** I usually chide them that if the world really cared what they had to
say, it would already be using Lisp :-))) ****
**** I can say this (in jest) as a former Lisp hacker (so calm down)


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