Dave Mccomb of Semantic Arts recently discussed how inspiration plays a part in designing ontologies. He writes, “It seems that there are three ways that ontologies are or can be related to applications. They are: (1) Inspiration. (2) Transformation. (3) Extension. To put this conversation in context, let’s go back to the ‘tic tac toe’ board [above]. What it is attempting to convey is that there are levels of abstraction and differences in perspective that we should consider when we are modeling. An application is in the lower middle cell. Data models are in the middle square. Ontologies could be anywhere. An ontology is a formal way of representing a model. And so we could have an ontology that describes an application, an ontology of a logical model, even ontologies of data or meta meta data.”

He goes on, “Normally when a designer designs an application they come up with the concepts from the requirements or from their experience. It typically doesn’t occur to them that they are recreating or overlapping with concepts that have been designed and developed elsewhere in the enterprise. Of course it does occur much later to the systems integrator who have to resolve all these similar, but not quite identical concepts. But if you have an enterprise ontology, this can serve as the basis for the designers model. When they have an urge to create a ‘client’ table they might notice that the ‘customer’ concept in the enterprise ontology is virtually identical to the concept they were going to implement (and if it is and needs to be slightly different there are ways to accommodate that).”

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Image: Courtesy Semantic Arts