Storing information about the meaning of terms—their “semantics”—can make data more valuable. Critics of semantic web technology consider such talk to be pie-in-the-sky AI talk; how can you encode the real meaning of words? More importantly, how can you do it in a way that programs can read and use to solve real data problems?
I drive a Honda Accord EX. To even write that, I had to look at the back of my car to remember the “EX” part, because it never meant anything to me. I try to remember to mention it when I call the dealership to ask about the availability of some part, because it might matter to them, but it doesn’t to me.
I’ve had problems getting OWL’s import mechanism to work before, and once I got a simple demo of it to work I wanted to make it available. owl:imports is great because it helps make your ontologies more modular, even letting you separate your ontology from the data it describes, sort of like—dare I say it—a schema.
While reading the W3C Recommendation OWL Use Cases and Requirements, I was surprised at how many nice, succinct explanations of basic OWL and ontology-related concepts it had, so I thought I’d reproduce some highlights here. For example, take its definition of an ontology:
I stopped reading BoingBoing some time ago, but my co-worker Eliot Kimber just pointed me to a BoingBoing item that makes fun of obsessive ontological design. It’s not every day that you see a Protégé screenshot or references to monotonicity constraints in a BoingBoing humor piece. Ironically, the idea of classifying cute cats could get my younger daughter interested in using Protégé, but she’d probably be better off with SWOOP.
Lee Feigenbaum’s recent posting Using RDF on the Web: A Survey is worth reading for anyone considering any kind of RDF development work, web-based or otherwise. At first, I thought that he was limiting himself by requiring that applications and tools be capable of both reading and writing RDF data, but after reading his list, I’m glad he did. I also found the wide choice of JSON-related systems to be interesting—they could lead the way to something that definitively answers the…
I love this recent quote from Jim Hendler:
Better late than never, I’ve finished my paper and PowerPoint slides for the “Relational database integration with RDF/OWL” talk that I gave in Boston. It’s a summary of work I described in this weblog as an ongoing project (, , , ), with a little more detail about how I actually did it.