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Re: [ba-ohs-talk] Organic Growth of Knowledge

Malcolm Dean wrote:    (01)

> When I use InfoSelect or askSAM, I never have to worry about classifying
> information. A "neural" search generally finds what I want, just as Google
> comes up with your target most of the time. If ontologies are to be useful
> and successful, they should be background processes invisible to users, and
> they should be *necessary* to the technical implementation. If they're not
> necessary, (and they are clearly such a failure at the user level), then why
> are we bothering with what is otherwise just an interesting computing
> problem?    (02)

Malcolm,    (03)

I'm kinda coming at this from a different angle. The Ph.D. project
I'm tackling here at KMi is designed to produce an authoring system
that will enable authors to categorize their research materials via
an "authoring ontology" (and by extension, anyone else trying to
organize their research materials, references, outlines, etc.).    (04)

So (if I'm successful) I'll have produced something that a selected
group of people want. It won't be transparent insofar as they will
be directly interacting with the underlying structures, which must
be extensible/modifiable by the user/author. For example, an author
writing about the French revolution (and organizing historical
information about specific individuals and events) will have rather
different needs than a science fiction writer (where even spacetime
might be altered, or at least extended 40,000 years into the future).    (05)

There's two things about this I think notable.    (06)

First, as I think I've mentioned here before, I think ontologies
must be personal, contextually-based, and ever-changing. I don't
think I could devise an ontology that would suit just myself as
an "everyday" or "common-sense" ontology, since the purpose to
which that ontology might be put changes with every application.
These ontologies (and the applications that process them) must be
"lazy" or "fuzzy" in that we humans don't categorize things all
that accurately, or at least with any sense of permanency.    (07)

Secondly, in the past ontologies have been designed by groups of
experts in the field of ontology (whatever that means; I've met
a few people with a philosophical background who find the entire
field of computer-based "ontologies" rather abhorrent). The idea
of a universal ontology is likewise abhorrent for all sorts of
reasons.    (08)

What I'm interested in developing (and in seeing developed) are
the tools that would allow the development *and sharing* of
personal ontologies, ontologies that *don't* agree with each other.
I think I once mentioned this in an OHS meeting at SRI, but I'm
interested in using ontologies to assist in conflict resolution,
to eek out the differences in world view. I'd love to see (rather
than from our computer scientists) the published ontologies of
our world's religious, political, philosophical, and artistic
thinkers. I can't honestly imagine it happening, but the middle
east crisis right now would perhaps benefit from both parties
going to the trouble of establishing and publishing what they
think about the world, and in seeing how their views compare.
The reason I can't imagine it happening is that I don't believe
people always *want* to expose their views to scrutiny, don't
always want reasoned discussion. I can't (for example) believe
the US government would want a reasoned discussion on why it
still allows the manufacture and sale of land mines within its
shores.    (09)

If the concept of a DKR is legitimate, it's also legitimate to
think of a personal DKR, and if we were to develop the tools to
allow the world's writers (who after all, mostly use computers
nowadays, even if just word processors) to build upon a base
ontology, altering it to suit their needs and worldview, and then
they were to publish those ontologies (heck, why not?) we could
see how their ideas compared with others and potentially be able
to discern the rationale behind their books. Someone like Umberto
Eco, Michael Ondaatje, someone like a modern Tolstoy, we could
all learn a great deal more if we wanted to dig in.    (010)

Murray    (011)

Murray Altheim                  <http://kmi.open.ac.uk/people/murray/>
Knowledge Media Institute
The Open University, Milton Keynes, Bucks, MK7 6AA, UK    (012)

      If it wants to be a global power and a player in the
      Atlantic alliance, Europe has to get back into the
      business of making war. -- Newsweek Magazine, June 3, 2002    (013)