Jon Lebkowsky on Thu, 27 Dec 2007 22:17:45 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> Critique of the "Semantic Web"

On Dec 27, 2007 3:20 AM, Scot Mcphee <> wrote:

>> My point actually was not that there would be a danger in the  Semantic
>> Web to confuse the two Nettimes (since avoiding such ambiguities as
>> opposed conventional full text queries is its very design objective),
>> but quite the opposite: That with its goal of unambiguous
>> categorization, it reduces, or even fails to acknowledge, the  cultural
>> complexity of the phenomena it references.
>> Even after reading Reto's precise counter arguments and explanations I
>> still agree with Florian's evaluation of the Semantic Web project.  What
>> I actually don't see is why Florian insists that the notion of  ontology
>> as used in the domain of the semantic web  is so different from the  use
>> in philosophy.  Fr
> What I don't understand why they don't just use the word "taxonomy".
> Isn't that what it is? Indexing and classifying. Sounds like a bunch
> of butterflies and insects pinned into a glass cabinet to me. Or does
> the word somehow conjure unwanted notions of enlightenment gentlemen
> doing exactly that - and it's an unwanted comparison that Florian
> makes, much to their discomfort.

Ontology has a different meaning in a geek context than in a philosophical
context, where it refers to an ultimate model of reality/being. A computer
ontology is a data model for a specific domain that describes the concepts
within that domain and their relationships. To Marianne's point, though the
terms are related conceptually, in practice computer ontology is different
from philosophical ontology in ways that are relevant to this discussion.
An ontology for the sematic web would not have the same cultural impact as
an ontology that attempts to describe reality (with an inherent cultural

~ Jon L.

Jon Lebkowsky
Polycot Associates


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