Between a Rock …

In addition to some insightful comments on the current Semantic Web Debate, Shelley offers up some mighty fine images of a mineral collection that’s taken years to assemble. The okenite image is very striking, and Sheryl reminded me that we also had to buy our first piece of okenite in order to “pet” it. A most fascinating mineral.

I appreciate the semweb postings as the review and summary of the various points of view and perspectives helps me understand the complexities and issues that continue to engulf this topic. It’s through this reasonable discourse that understanding is gained, and from what I can see, there are at least a couple of valid ways to view the current state of affairs. Both the bottoms-up, grass-roots and the more centralized, standards-driven approaches are valid, in the appropriate time and place.

What seems more critical is that in the small, say amongst mineral collectors*, that a common taxonomy(ontology?) be developed as early as possible, to facilitate whatever data sharing (items, including description; items for sale and trade etc) might be desired.
*(or maybe a level up, amongst “collectors” (oops, “what’s a collector?”) (yes, I do tend to think hierarchically (and parenthetically)))
Hmm, writing the above helped illustrate to me the difficulties inherent in dealing with this topic (what topic?).

Similarly, amongst businesses, the need for a common naming convention seems a clear win, and it shouldn’t be “owned” by any one corporation. But really, what are corps? How do they differ from a small, topic-focused group that’s not primarily focused on commerce? The difference is, I believe, related to the fact that different approaches work better for different groups.

Both approaches are valid, but for other (social?) reasons, the different approaches will work better with different constituencies. As a result, what’s not yet needed is a universal nomenclature across disciplines, groups, etc. Translators can be written as needed, though groups should try, as makes sense for them, to “federate” with other groups of similar interest; as Shelley notes, “you either pay upfront, once; or you keep paying in the end, again and again”. For the time being, I expect both approaches will continue to evolve, over time approaching some grand thing that really is the Semantic Web.

Oh, and seeing Shelley’s fine work reminds me that my own mineral site, focused on fluorescent minerals, hasn’t had any attention for quite some time. Still, if you haven’t visited before, there’s plenty to see, from a description of fluorescent minerals, links to other related sites, and of course, a fair number of photos of fluroescent minerals.

calcite encrusted shell and calcite crystals