The Ontolog Forum

Mikes Notes

Some years ago, while searching for examples of how to build temporal databases, I came across Dr. Matthew West. He had worked on and written about an approach called 4Dism. I discovered archives of his papers and articles to read.

Then I discovered he was a member of the Ontolog Forum, which looked very useful. So, I asked him if I could join. It has a rich Google Group


Discussion Example

12/06/2024 Post


>> However, IMHO, If the model is a model of the “real world” then is it not a “data” model.  I would rather call things what they are: if it’s a “data model” you’re modelling data structures.  If you’re modelling the “real world” then it is not a “data” model – because it’s not a model of data.  (The term “conceptual data model” should be banished from everyone’s vocabulary!)  If you are modelling the real world, it could be called an “ontology”. 

Bill and I have been having a long conversation about this offline.

Bill is , of course, quite right about the mainstream orthodox view of modelling in the IS community. 
This envisages a starting point where one develops a model of the real world (the model represents/refers to the real world)
At some stage (the data modelling stage) one then uses exactly the same model as a data model to represent the data structure of the system you are building. Where, of course, some of the data then represents the real world - so a two level model. 

I have, in the last decade or so, come to think that there is a different and better way to describe what is going on - one that opens up new ways of working.

The kind of conceptual models we build using things like UML modelling tools, it seems to me, can be regarded as representing the real world, but also (at the same time) showing how this representation can be captured as data.
(For more on showing see Macbeth, D. (2012). Seeing How It Goes: Paper-and-Pencil Reasoning in Mathematical Practice. Philosophia Mathematica, 20(1), 58–85.
So the shift from conceptual to data models can be seen as not a shift in representation but different roles for the same model - one of representing the other of showing.
And that during the SDLC this model evolves becoming a closer and closer match for how it shows the data in the system - and then (with modern MDA tools) it becomes the system.

Interestingly, this then gives these IS models a similar sense to models elsewhere, e.g. in architecture, where a scale model is built to show what the building would look like.
Also, closer to the sense of model in science that is explored by e.g. Margaret Morrison and Mary Morgan.

There is a lot more to say, but just two quick points.
If one is reverse engineering, so  travering the SDLC in the opposite direction, then this showing perspective is a much better match for the practice we follow in bCLEARer. So we start with a system and then we 'evolve' the whole system to one where the 'conceptual' underpinning (the real world representing) is much clearer and explicit. 
If one accepts that one is both representing the real world and showing the system, then the current practices of only modelling (representing and showing) entity types at the conceptual modelling stage seems odd - why not model the individual entities - the particulars. ..." - Chris Partridge

17/06/2024 Post

"Hi John and other interested parties,

There was a thread on this forum a while back that ultimately lead to my publication of a presentation titled “Understanding Data” to slideshare, which also has a safer PDF variantPDF variant on our website.

Basically, I defined data as observation in reusable form.b..." - Kingsley Idehen

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