3389RE: [TaxoCoP] data modeling and taxonomy
- Jan 16, 2010
Matt et al.,
Sorry for the long delay in responding, I’ve been tied-up with other things. I’m not intending to restart this thread, but simply to be polite in responding to Matt’s question below.
I guess my use of the word ‘ontology’ is what Wikipedia describes under the article Ontology (Information Science):
Ø In computer science and information science, an ontology is a formal representation of a set of concepts within a domain and the relationships between those concepts. <
In my case, the ‘domain’ is an activity system – usually an organization or part of an organization. At that point, I disagree with the Wikipedia entry where it says:
Ø An ontology provides a shared vocabulary, which can be used to model a domain. <
I don’t believe ontologies generate vocabularies directly. They provide a shared depiction of concepts and their relationships in an activity system, and it’s only in the next stage (the taxonomic system) that terms are agreed for describing those concepts. A third stage – the retrieval system – is where one recognizes that different communities use different terms for the same thing, and if people are to retrieve information using their own terms, then these must be reconciled through the conventional techniques of preferred and non-preferred terms and related terms exemplified by the thesaurus.
In this sense, my ‘ontology’ is analogous to what Wikipedia describes as ‘Upper ontology (information science)’. I don’t use the ontology itself to make inferences, but to draw the broad outlines of my taxonomic system, which is where I start making inferences to construct the hierarchical and referential relationships.
I don’t know if it will make my approach to and use of ontologies any clearer, but anyone interested can look at a presentation I gave to the NKOS workshop in Vienna in 2005: http://www2.db.dk/nkos2005/Bob Bater.pdf.
"My 'working hypothesis' in this respect does not include the need for ontologies to enable the making of inferences."
I think you're using a particular version of the term "ontology" that might cause a little confusion. How does your ontology differ from a faceted classification structure? My understanding of ontologies is that they specify the "verbs" that link "nouns" as well as the nouns themselves (so they specify what a certain subclass of person can do to a certain subclass of document for example). What's "in" and what's "out" of your model?
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