All posts for the month September, 2009

Meta was the word. Ontologies are the current buzzword. The word we need is metontology – meta-ontology – an ontology of ontologies – a collection of ontological statements (that need not actually be organized ontologically itself).

There are countless projects to standardize ontologies for given domains. It used to be ten-a-penny [MyDomain]ML’s – XML Schemas with defined tags, and the W3C / SemanticWeb movement is driving that to ontologies defined in RDF/OWL, again with standardized sets of tags referencable as ubiquitous URI’s.

An ontology need no longer exist as a complete thing for one domain / business / application area – which is just as well, since no such usage domain has clear boundaries with other business domains. This has been recognized before in trying to standardize “Standard Upper Ontology” hierarchically above any number of collections of URIdentifiable reference data. Your ontology is just the collection you happen to use. Treating SUO as hierarchical, above all others, simply creates a competition for the higher ground.

In fact that upper ontology does not itself need to be hierarchical. It is just another collection of reference data – a collection of ways to say ontological things. Of course, that flat, bag of things can be applied to itself to create a hierarchical or heterarchical network (ontology) of itself. Remember OWL is a language, and languages include words that describe words, grammar and other parts of that language.

The natural recursion might scare the odd programmer – but only one who wants to somehow program that upper ontology. Get over it. The collection of ontological statements can be used to describe any other ontology – whether your dominant or preferred view is physical, spatial, temporal, material, process, functional, people, mental, conceptual or whatever. The collection – the URIdentified, referencable superset – is all that is needed.

The ontologies are a red-herring. Come on OWL, how hard can it be ?

Spooooky – 4 hours after writing this I receive Laurie Taylor’s “Thinking Allowed” newsletter “What are you talking about ?” And, it’s about using ontological (& epistemological) & meta as weapons to confuse an argument 😉

Post Note – and less that two weeks later, a Thinking Allowed edition on “Classification” with Anthiony Graying. How the interesting aspect of classification are the things (the Platypi) that don’t fit  standard schemes and the need to re-invent idiosyncratic classifications for personal uses and purposes in order to derive any new meaning and value.

Having my mind brought back to the mid-70’s by the previous post, I noticed I had the lyrics to Roy Harper’s “Me and My Woman” sitting in a draft post from a couple of weeks ago, just before the vacation. I think Sam’s post to name your favourite U2 tracks, led me into a “soundtrack of our lives” mood … and I regressed to around 1972 … and then realized it had been done before. Desert Island Discs it’s called. Anyway, not to waste the man’s words …

Me and My Woman – Roy Harper

I never know what kind of day it’s been,
on my battlefield of ideals.
But the way she touches and the way it feels,
must be just how it heals
And it’s got a little better
since I let her sundance.

I never know what time of year it is,
living on top of the fire.
But the robin outside has to hunt and hide,
in the cold and frosty shire.

Ah but he knows just what goes
in between his cold toes and his warm ears
And he’s got no disguise in his eyes
for his love as she nears

He spreads her a shelter
She takes the tall skies
As they helter skelter
Along the same sighs

She wakes my days with a glad face
She fakes and says I’m a hard case
She makes and plays like a bad ace
Carrying my days into scarred space

And she knows me well, ah but what the hell
Only time can tell, where we’re going to
Me and my woman

And the Lord speaks out
and the pigpens fawn
The sword slides out
and the nations mourn
The hoard strides out
and the chosen spawn
The devil rides out
and the heavens yawn

And he knows us well, ah but what the hell,
Only time can tell, where we’re going to.
Me and my woman

What a lovely day,
what a day to play at living
What a mess we make,
what a trust we break not giving
Our wings to our children
O how we fail them
O how we nail them

Sunset my colour,
and king is my name
Darkness my lover,
and we live in shame
Too far away
from the light of the day
And so near, and so here

Can’t break through the silence
that has taken my place
On the plains of the morning
that I just could not face

Asking you these questions,
telling you these lies
Enveloping directions,
developing disguise
Open to suggestions,
but closed to all my eyes

Dead on arrival, right where I stand

Space is just an ashtray,
flesh is my best wheel
The atmosphere’s my highway,
and the landscape’s my next meal
I need my own Good Friday,
and I’m trying to fix the deal

Dead on arrival, right where I stand

I am the new crowned landlord
of all beneath my star
Queueing up for doomsday
in my homesick motor car
Born before my mother,
died before my pa.

Dead on arrival, right where I stand

And the cuckoo she moves
through the dawn fanfare
The dew leaves the rooves
in the magic air
I feel a finger running through
my nightmare’s lair
I feel most together
with my nowhere stare

And you know me well, ah but what the hell
Only time can tell where we’re going to.
Me and my woman

Those Sounds of the 70’s Peel sessions … Twelve Hours of Sunset, Highway Blues … back to the future.

(Pity. One flaw, I can just hear my woman saying – Horses have hooves, houses have roofs.)

I was reading Graham Parker’s reminiscences of 1975 London pub-rock, around the recording of “Live at Newlands Tavern” – boy that took me back – but no I wasn’t actually at either of those Peckham or High Wycombe gigs, nor even that Dr Feelgood gig in Guildford with GP or Paul Weller. Must buy a copy. Another time, another place – there or thereabouts in spirit.

Anyway, I read on to the previous post (from the time of Obama’s election) – a rant against conservative republicanism, and was taken by this turn of phrase for failed rationality …

Conservative thinking is over. Its crushing, one-small-portion-of-the-left-hemisphere-of-my-brain-is-all-I’m-using approach to the complexities of this period in history are now too flat-footed to be entertained by anyone who is using a modicum of the other cranial areas. It might have been useful once, but it’s not anymore. – Graham Parker.

Apolitically, atemporally – conservative as in traditional received wisdom – of our time at any time – my point precisely. 10/10 useless – might have been useful once.

Best Definition of KM Ever according to David Gurteen in his latest newsletter, quoting Dave Snowden and his commentary quoting The Cluetrain Manifesto.

The purpose of knowledge management is to provide support for improved decision making and innovation throughout the organization. This is achieved through the effective management of human intuition and experience augmented by the provision of information, processes and technology together with training and mentoring programmes.
Dave Snowden – Cognitive Edge

I agree with David (G)’s analysis:- the decision-support purpose upfront and the focus on understanding through dialogue. Myself, I find it especially telling that human intuition and experience come next and that information, processes, technology, training, etc are all merely augmentation.

Spot on.

I’ve been living with this nagging issue for a few years now. After a long period of many intercontinental business trips and working assigments as well as foreign vacation travel from a UK home, I’ve had a self-inflicted period of choosing to live and work abroad in Australia, USA & Norway. I have thereby been travelling by air more often (and paradoxically with ever cheaper airlines) for domestic or vacation reasons, and family members as well as myself.

I still firmly believe that everyone who wants to hold an international opinion, needs to get out more and see the world – I’ve been very “lucky” in that respect.

But of course the carbon-footprint and oil-dependency of air-travel is inescapable in both global-warming and energy sustainability terms. (Funny just typing that I can just see my Dad saying, some oooh 35/40 years ago, whilst looking up a high-altitude vapour trails criss-crossing the skies , that the scale of aircraft environmental damage was obvious.)

I also firmly believe that even with increasingly sophisticated remote-team-working possibilities, that if international working is part of our economy, then there is still a need for person-to-person working in the flesh to achieve shared understanding and concensus in decision-making. But that brings economic globalization itself into the sustainability equation too.

Anyway, the relative significance of air-travel to other carbon-footprint contributions is plain to see. It was Sue Blackmore that I first saw pledge to give-up air travel – I wonder how close to completely giving-up she actually achieved.

So as well as pledging not to contribute further to the primary problem of global population 😉 I intend that my next move, will be “home” and to a working pattern that can be conducted satisfactorily close to home with less remote team-working needed within one year. Minimal if not zero air-travel. (And I’ll consider voting for anyone that pledges to tax air travel generally – and penalize the cheap carriers disproportionately – and specifically subsidize educational exchange travel with 20% of the take.)

Interesting new WordPress RSS Cloud capability and plug-in by Joseph Scott. Allows RSS subscription for a feed cloud – supposed to reduce feed spam. Don’t fully understand yet, but I do know I have stopped most of my subscriptions through FeedReader & FeedBurner because of the notification overload.

Having (mostly) read Diamond’s Collapse recently, and noticing the various G8 stories (Japan today, China, India, etc ongoing as well as US, Russia and the rest of us in the same boat) about climate change controls, carbon emissions targets, agreements, and the like, I can’t help feeling the No.1 global sustainability issue is population – pure and simple. (But, see the comment about simplicity in the previous post).

Every other effect is multiplied by this number – population times consumption times every other effective governance, efficiency and diversity issue. And where are the margins for error, the plan B’s, the escape routes, the insurance policies, those rainy day resources ? It’s warm and cuddly to talk about each doing our bit for global warming, for the environment, peak-oil, etc – and important to do it for real of course. However, it seems it’s very non-PC to suggest (human) population control is the real issue – now there is a political minefield.

Or are world leaders banking on widespread war, famine and pestilence to sort that one out for us ? Not on their watch, of course. Predictably, hypocrisy rather than evil will be our downfall.