SWAO:Conference Call 20210412

Number 89
Duration 1 hour60 minute
3,600 second
0.0417 day
Date/Time April 12 2021 18:00 GMT
11:00am PDT/2:00pm EDT
7:00pm BST/8:00pm CEST
Convener Mike Bennett

IAOA Semantic Web Applied Ontology (SWAO) SIG

Meetings are normally on the first Monday of the month at 2pm Eastern Time.


  • Latest post for the IAOA website
  • Ontology Articulation Guidelines
    • Update from earlier (non-monthly) call
  • Housekeeping
  • AoB
  • Next Meeting


Ontology Articulation Guidelines

IAOA Education committee is pursuing some ideas for public-facing content. The current work on ontology articulation guidelines seems like something in the same vein.

Question of who IAOA define their audience to be, and outlines towards progression of material.

Do we have an outline - is this Guidelines thing intended to be a single or an evolution of artifacts.

EC Inclusion

on 1st question (EC inclusion)

TS will raise this with the EC next week.

What does TS need from this meeting to take to that?

Succinct description of what we intend to do.

At present this is not very clear.

TS we all have some notion of what should be there but there may not be a common notion.

Meaning of Ontology Articulation

What does Ontology Articulation mean?

Andrea Westerinen: So, is this about ontology purpose/audience, ontology definition/communication (is this tied to purpose and audience), specific ontology details, and then onto reuse/maintenance/...?

Andrea Westerinen: This might be our outline.

Ken returns: Agrees that this would be a good thing to bring to the EC.

Next EC meeting is Wed 21 April at 09:30 EDT

Andrea Westerinen: Purpose and nature + level (foundational, domain, application)

KB: Clarity and communication was the most important. Other features also relevant eg if you don't make clear what your purpose and intended audience are

TS: Are those points about, about ontology or the ontology articulation guidelines, or both?

KB: We should not specify all the details, but give guidance and advice.

ToddSchneider: articulation =def. the action of putting into words an idea or feeling of a specified type

AW: Would answer differently. Top level is about ontology, while ontology articulation is a piece of it. Definition / Communication was about the ontology and the communication (articulation) of that ontology e.g. OWL with no formal logic, OWL with SWRL, in CL and so on. This determines tool choices. Might not matter how to define it if you can translate to something in English e.g. a spreadsheet - that is articulation and definition so the underlying thing is less important.

ToddSchneider: articulation of what?

Options are: Articulating the content of the ontology itself, or articulating the guidelines of what an ontology should be like (styles of ontology).

TS there are two things you can articulate to: Humans or machines

KB: And communities.

So that's 3

Andrea Westerinen: Humans AND Machines

KB: The stuff MB is talking about sounds more like development guidelines. So these are two different things.

Andrea Westerinen: And different communities need different types of communications

Andrea Westerinen: They even may use different vocabularies.

KB: Ontology development guidelines seems well developed. Articulation guidelines are less so

MB and TS: The development guidelines are not so well developed, other than within specific ontology usage verticals.

MB we need to decide which we focus on first.

KB: Characterizes what MB says in terms of the guidelines for pre-development activities. Things like scope, stakeholders.

MB you would end up with different kinds of ontology as a result of that process.

TS: Those practices are already well developed.

So, is KB talking about articulating the development process, or about the sorts of ontology that drop out of applying that engineering process?

KB: The latter.

KB: this would be valuable not only to the ontology community but other communities outside of ontology?

Clarify: Suppose you had a community that was building standards for concrete, they would not have thought about an ontology as part of the solution to these requirements.

TS: If we agree with this then we are talking about articulating the procedures for ontology development and the sorts of ontologies drop out of those procedures.

KB: That presumes that you have the idea of different kinds of ontology.

Example: What kinds of distinctions are included (e.g. BFO v FIBO)

Andrea Westerinen: Isn't that the distinction between foundational vs domain?

MB: The question of differentiae already spins out into several different styles of ontology.

Context: you can have an application ontology that is in a context but the context is not explicit as part of the ontology.

KB: Is there a notion of what kinds of questions you would ask of the ontology to arrive at the style answers

Consensus: Seems there are several such questions.

Bit like requirements (but some few kinds of ontology may themselves be like requirements).

We should aim to collect a bunch of such questions.

AW has a bunch of different experiences that could be put into such a list.

AW: Do we start with the experiences and then come up with the questions, or do we start asking questions in high level terms, or meeting in the middle?

Some of the questions would be included in the development lifecycle stuff

Do we also want to develop questions that would lead to the use of different TLOs (or no TLO) and / or different ontological commitments (Realism, 4D etc.)

Andrea Westerinen: Analysis may be driven by more concrete questions ... Like "systems thinking"

TS What about things that might lead to using some of those as an analytical tool whether or not the resulting work also conforms to these.

Have seen certain TLOs cause problems even in the analysis, if they are not well matched to what they are trying to do.

Have seen issues with the intended semantics of some of the concepts in some TLOs.

Should not need to go into the notion of Occurrent to use the notion.

People can get lost about what their goal is.

Andrea Westerinen: What is your timeframe? What is your 'system'? What are its boundaries? What depth do you need to go to?

MB: There are no wrong answers, just missing questions.

Some people are not well suited to ontology.

MB this is a distinct skill set, just like being able to play a musical instrument. Some IT folks may happen to be good at it, others may not.

AW: Distinguishing Continuant v Occurrent may be a matter of time scales. Need to understand the system, domain, scope (boundaries).

That also bring you to the questions of Realism, to whether there are absolute truths.

Meaning is not Truth.

e.g. in science there are accepted true assertions.

ToddSchneider: Can we not use the term 'meaning', but instead use 'interpretation'?

AW: Some of the TLOs e.g. Realism are better suited to the core of science (realism = truth of what things mean and how things relate to things). Other domains e.g. military, are not able to use that since I have to track who thought what, for which a Realist ontology like BFO would be very problematic. See e.g. World Modelers - minimal ontology (people, cause etc.) at top level, and bottom level is scientific models with no ontology. Trying to bring together things that papers say and things that can be combined in a scientific model. Applying to understanding poverty in Ethiopia. Failing as they do not have the right ontology and no-one needs the scientific models for Ethiopia.

Ken Baclawski: @[14:45] There is a saying about this problem. "To a person with a hammer, every problem looks like a nail." A person who has made a psychological commitment to a particular tool will change the problem to suit their tool rather than the other way around.

So this is a good example of not asking the right questions that will have resulted in the right kind of ontology.

RR: Computational ontology versus conceptual ontologies, are an important distinction. Defines 'What are your goals' e.g. do something useful with data versus those who need detailed philosophical accounts of things.

e.g. in science there is no single convergence on truth, so even there, a given realist ontology might be a good fit.

Science would not assume a given metaphysical view of the world.

Need to articulate Realism v Conceptualism.

Any given ontology will consider itself Realist or Conceptualist. It would not be helpful to say that e.g. BFO is about science.

Notions of Continuant v Occurrent also pre-date the current TLOs. These are metaphysically posted entities.

It is not natural to focus on those terms - as defined in a given TLO. There is more baggage associated with those things. There are other e.g. hybrid ways of representing those notions.

ToddSchneider: Temporal aspects of an entity are important to know to understand what needs to be represented.

Andrea Westerinen: If we word the questions without using philosophy terms, then that would be more palatable.

MB we need ontologists to understand philosophy in order not to make philosophical mistakes.

Andrea Westerinen: @Todd +1

Andrea Westerinen: @Mike We need to word the questions so that they are understandable across vocabularies and not using specific vocab choices of existing TLOs.

Journal of Applied Ontology

Ken Baclawski: This is off-topic, but could be considered AOB for some of us. The Journal of Applied Ontology has just sent me the proof for the Communique on knowledge graphs. While I am responsible for proof-reading, is anyone interested in contributing to this?

Andrea Westerinen: @Ken Contributing how?

Proof reading (parts)

Errors or expanding? Just errors.

Action: Mail Ken if you are interested in proof reading for potential errors.

Next meeting:


Start to compile some questions via email.

Do we have a post for EC?

Report that to the EC. Report that this is what we are doing.

Can set up a Google Doc? or DropBox

TS can't access Google Docs.

Use an email list OR the SWAO email server


Just the 5 people who are here.

Each person come up with their list then compile list.


MB to confirm if next meeting is the 1st Mon in May or if that is a public holiday.


  • Todd Schneider
  • Ken Baclawski
  • Andrea Westerinen
  • Robert Rovetto
  • Mike Bennett

Next Meetings

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Previous Meetings

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