Alistair Miles

Category: retrieval

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.

Enterprise Search: Google vs. Exalead vs. Oracle

Some interesting discussion in the session “Latest Developments in Enterprise Search” at Online Information yesterday (day 2, track 2, session 1)…

Francois Bourdoncle presented the Exalead approach; Roger Ford presented Oracle Secure Enterprise Search (SES); Roberto Solimene presented Google OneBox.

All three speakers emphasised being able to search different types of both structured and unstructured information. Surprisingly, none of the speakers talked about how their products achieve high precision (relevancy). The discussion after the talks was perhaps most interesting, highlighting two major issues in enterprise search, relevancy and privacy … here’s my raw notes taken at the time…

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Ontogenesis Network Meeting

The first meeting of the Ontogenesis Network was held 30/31 October in Manchester. The theme of the meeting was “the Informal Meets Formal” .. an exploration of issues connecting less formal types of controlled vocabularies and knowledge organisation/elicitation tools with more formal ontologies grounded in e.g. description logics.

I presented “Gardens of Meaning” – a metaphor for the creation and evolution of controlled vocabularies. I’m very concerned with designing work flow models that minimise the overall costs of vocabulary development and maintenance, especially the costs associated with maintaining dependencies between controlled vocabularies and metadata. This metaphor is a first tentative step in that direction, I hope.

The meeting was excellent, many interesting presentations, unfortunately the web content is poor if you want more information. The Ontogenesis Network home page is a bit out of date, but has some basic information about the context of the network itself. The Ontogenesis Network wiki has more up to date info, including a page for the recent network meeting (including a programme of speakers). There is also the Ontogenesis Network blog, although this doesn’t have much content at the moment.

A Theory of Retrieval Using Structured Vocabularies

I’ve finally submitted my masters dissertation! It’s entitled “Retrieval and the Semantic Web” and most of the content is devoted to developing “A Theory of Retrieval Using Structured Vocabularies” – you can get it from this location.

I really hope this work will help to put SKOS on a firm footing as we begin the process of developing it towards W3C Recommendation status.