Alistair Miles

Category: gardens of meaning

Collaboration in the Value Grid for Semantic Technologies

I’ve submitted a final version of a paper for the e-Science All Hands Meeting this year, now entitled “Collaboration in the Value Grid for Semantic Technologies”. The main body of the paper is much the same as the previous version, although I’ve tried to emphasise the link between the two main sections on value and collaboration. See e.g. the following extract:

Ontologies are not the only means of articulating a shared conceptualisation, however. Controlled vocabularies, taxonomies, thesauri, classification schemes, topic maps, subject heading systems, semantic networks – to name a selection – are all specifications of a shared conceptualisation, albeit “informal” or “semi-formal”. These and many other types of product have to be considered, in order to design solutions to specific problems at reasonable cost; solutions that are feasible, scalable and part of a sustainable business model. This begs a number of questions. What possible paths exist from knowledge expressed informally (unstructured information) to formal ontologies? How can these paths be broken down into stages, and what does each stage produce? In what ways can these different products be exploited? What are the likely costs, benefits and risks associated with different paths and different stages? How much human effort will be required, and how can this effort be reduced by computation? How can the necessary human effort be organised into efficient work flows that enable collaboration? Does economic and practical scalability vary with different paths and different products?

This paper works towards answers to these questions, by viewing ontologies as products in a value grid of semantic technologies, and by examining collaboration as a critical component of all value-adding activities within this grid. The dual focus of this paper on value and collaboration is emphasised, because these points of view are complementary. Whereas the focus on value leads to a better understanding of products and the ways in which they can be broken down, planned and exploited, the focus on collaboration leads to a better understanding of processes and the ways in which they can be structured and managed.

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Gardens of Meaning … or why the Semantic Web is for Vulcans

I gave a presentation entitled Gardens of Meaning … or why the Semantic Web is for Vulcans to the Oxfordshire Semantic Web Interest Group this week. The presentation works towards the motivation behind the Gardens of Meaning metaphor, via an informal and somewhat ironic poke at some of the hype associated with the Semantic Web vision. The joke is that the Semantic Web depends on people being able to share their “conceptualisations” with each other, and then express those conceptualisations formally using an ontology language, neither of which is easy … if only we were Vulcans, we could mind meld and, of course, we would have dedicated our lives to pure logic.