Vocabulary, taxonomy, thesaurus, ontology ...

Still unclear about differences between those things? This is a neat and pragmatic introduction. The kind of stuff C*Os should be able to read and make sense of.
Seems that "Taxonomy" is the most trendy word those days, but if you take the time to make a bit of shopping at the Taxonomy Warehouse you will find all kinds of resources belonging to any of those types, and many more : subject headings, classification schemes, indexing schemes, reference models, dictionaries, glossaries ...

Google Sets

Yet another Google tool. Sort of things clustering, results can be amazing.
Try {thing, subject, resource} or {Mondeca}.

No hierarchy revisited

I've been re-discovering today this first exchange with Jack and others, about five years old now, amazed and quite pleased to find out we seem to keep following the same track, and to agree basically with most of what I wrote at the time. Don't know if that is supposed to be good news or bad news, though...
Actually there was an interesting notion introduced then that we have unfortunately a little forgotten since, which is subjects as attractors in conversations. This we should consider again, along with other mathematical tools linked to quantic superposition we have been discussing lately. On the same lines, I had an exchange a few days ago with Michel Biezunski who is currently exploring the field of fiber bundles as a possible tool for subject representation, in the line of his recent presentation at Extreme Markup 2005.


Blogos, the essence of your blog

Being always quite eager to coin new words, and singularly through hybridation, such as hubject or semantopic, I'm just frustrated to have been beaten at that one. So what is the blogos of univers immedia?

Grafting , crossbreeding and other taxonomy breaches

Follow-up of Jack's previous post. Biology has long ago set the rules for categorization, trying to capture the elusive but critical notions of taxon and species. Of course, it's always interesting to look at breaches in this system to see how robust it is. Without looking far away in the past to yet unclassified fossils, just consider common practices such as tree grafting and cattle cross-breeding. Interestingly enough, various religious traditions have been extremely touchy about them, often forbidding them merely because of entailed taxonomy breaches, the species organization being considered as the expression of some divine order. See for example this article showing how complex those issues can get in practice when addressed by Torah experts.
Most fears linked to bio-technologies are indeed to be considered at the same level. People are both fascinated and scared about hybrids and GM organisms, as they have always been about monsters and chimaeras of any kind, more for the breaches they make in their world representation than any objective danger they bring about.


Strange fossil defies grouping

I've got to hand it to paleontologists. Go look at the artist's sketch of the creature that is the subject of the linked article, then look at the image of the creature itself. That someone can imagine such a creature from such a fossil is simply amazing. Nevertheless, there exists a creature that does not readly fit current models. The story gives rise to useful points about subject identity.
The trouble is the animal, named Vetustodermis planus, did not possess a set of features, or characters, which placed it clearly within any known group.

I am interpreting the word "characters" to mean characteristics. This creature identity issue is telling in the sense that it suggests open issues for topic maps subject identification processing. How does ISO 13250 address subject identification? Section 5.2.1 "Topic Link Architectual Form" of ISO 13250 suggests this:
The optional subject identity attribute refers to one or more indications ("subject descriptors") of the identity of the subject (the organizing principle) of the topic link.

There exist numerous interpretations of 5.2.1, which are manifest in XTM, TMDM, and TMRM. Is it appropriate to revisit the assumptions inherent in those interpretations?

I am indebted to Patrick Durusau for long and productive discussions centered around the subject identity issues related to topic maps implementations. I'd like to see such discussions in greater depth, in public.


Subject Identity: Now more than ever...

Heard on the radio this morning while driving to work. Story about a woman who discovered that her 11-month old son was a terrorist. How could this be? A ticket agent at an airline prevented the child from boarding a flight. That's how. It seems that the given name of the child was found on the list of people to be prevented from boarding flights. It would seem that, in the context of merging topics in a topic map, it's dangerous to rely on names for things as a valid criteria.


More on Quantum Semantics

Some follow-up of the previous post on Quantum Semantics ... While Justin Leavesley keeps hitting the nail in Semantic SuperPositions, I remembered an interesting presentation by Nikita Ogievetsky in Seattle Knowledge Technologies 2002 Conference about Quantum Topic Maps. Googling around for more, I stumbled on a bunch of interesting papers, introducing identification issues raised by Quantum Physics, and some logical or mathematical frameworks able to tackle them.
    From the latter, in the conclusion :
    We have suggested here that quantum objects are vague objects and, further, that how that vagueness is understood depends on the metaphysical package adopted with regard to their individuality. If quantum objects are taken to be individuals, as Lowe considers them, then the vagueness arises because of the existence of relations which do not supervene on monadic properties of the relata; it is because of such relations that we cannot tell which particle is which in an entangled state [...] The alternative package characterises quanta as non-individuals, where this is understood in terms of a lack of identity. [...] There are still some interesting questions to be addressed here, such as how it is that one can refer to objects for which one cannot even say that identity holds.
    Is Information Science, at the dawn of 21st century, at a breaking point similar to the one crossed by Physics a century ago ?


    Deep Web Research

    The link under the title points to an entity that is, on the surface, interesting:
    DeepWebResearch.info is a Subject Tracer™ Information Blog developed and created by the Virtual Private Library™. It is designed to bring together the latest resources and sources on an ongoing basis from the Internet for deep web research which are listed below.

    On the surface, it sounds like they are doing topic mapping of one sort of another. What is more interesting (to me) is how I landed on that site: mostly by way of a search for everything that is knowable about UIMA, IBM's Unstructured Information Management Architecture, which is being announced this week at LinuxWorld to go open source. It is already an Eclipse plugin. One of the search hits suggested that DeepWebResearch might be using UIMA in its technology.

    Whether quantum mechanics, or category theory, or plain old propositional logic is at work, it is necessary that some form of information resource harvesting will be necessary. It seems a bit of great news that we can start pulling together a large array of available open source products to assemble ever more powerful harvesting tools.

    Schrödinger's Web

    This is a follow-up of the previous post at Inbetween, providing yet more exciting thoughts about co-existence of many inconsistent descriptions of the same thing as a native feature of the Semantic Web.
    It strikes me that if inconsistency is fundamental then it should be treated as such, not something to be avoided.
    Follows the idea that maybe we need something like the logic of Quantum Physics for the Semantic Web. In such a framework, subjects would be seen, as quantic objects are, as superposition of mutually incompatible states, each one with a given probability. Pushing this concept further needs to define the notion of interaction. When you interact with a quantic object through an experiment, you get the very peculiar behavior known as wavefunction collapse in which the probability distribution changes suddenly in such a way that one particular state is actually "observed". Very long debates and crucial experiments eventually turned out to be rather in favor of the strictly probalistic interpretation, which some famous Quantum Physics founders (including Einstein) would not have been happy with.
    I wonder if we are ready to go this far. Seems to me people will have hard time to, but eventually accept to live with the notion of subjects being by essence superposition of mutually inconsistent states, but going further to admit that observed properties of a subject in a given representation context are probabilistically determined would certainly prove at least as difficult as it has been in Physics. Took about a century there.

    [Added] Thinking about it, the case certainly differs from Physics. The "semantic collapse" leading to specific representation properties is certainly not completely random, but rather likely to use some hidden variables depending on the representation context.

    [2013-08-20] : A typical observation of the subject identified by a URI is a HTTP GET request on this URI. The state of the resource you observe depends on server and client conditions, plus state of the network, plus content negotiation parameters, caching etc. All those are mostly hidden variables indeed for the regular user, but the important point is that most of the time you can't define the state of the resource independently of a specific interaction.


    Perfect or sloppy - RDF, Shirky and Wittgenstein

    Danny Ayers picked this one up. Follows Clay Shirky's post on ontologies that I mentioned earlier. Here's the snippet that, I think, ties the linked subject to univers immedia:
    It essential[ly] hinges on this, do you believe two people have ever in the history of humanity shared the same (i.e identical) concept. Do you believe that concepts exist as perfect entities that we share or infact do we say a concept is shared when we see a number of people using words in a similar enough way. i.e is the world fuzzz, sloppy and uncertain or is it perfect? Are concepts A Priori or derived?

    Quoting further:
    This is the essential error that Wittgenstein points out in his later work. There is no single shared meaning that we all can describe in our different ways. To believe so is to believe that a meaning exists A Priori and that language is just our means of describing it. Instead Wittgenstein turns it on its head and says, meaning is nothing more than the way a word is actually used by people.

    The post then goes on to describe ways in which his comments are reflected in applications of RDF. Danny Ayers adds a comment to the post which says:
    ...the vast majority of software in use today is based on similar conceptual approximations, yet somehow manages to be useful.


    What is a planet ?

    The debate has been around since Copernic and before ...
    The claim Friday that a 10th planet has been discovered in our solar system has set off a fresh round of debate and international talks aimed at defining the most vexing term in astronomy: the word planet.
    Bottom line : The more you know about a subject, the trickier it is to define.

    [2015-02-23] Just in case you were not aware of it, the follow-up of this story has been the redefinition of planet in 2006, by which Pluto is no more a planet, but a dwarf planet. A white horse is not a horse...