Or “How I Wish I Could Convince You to Stop Worrying and Love Ontology”
As I’ve tested elevator pitches it’s become clear to me that the word “ontology” is the kiss of death with a few audiences. Friends and family without a background in IT immediately assume it has something to do with being a cancer doctor. Often those who are familiar with ontology have been burned by academic exercises and are very sceptical that ontology has anything practical to offer.
In the first set of posts for the Mosi Systems blog we’ll address each of these two audiences in turn. We’ll start with those who might know what an ontology is but question the benefit or value. In the future we’ll delve into some of the specifics on how ontology designers can avoid falling down the academic rat hole. For now I’ll go ahead and wax futuristic about some of the possibilities I see when I think about how ontology and semantic technologies, well applied, will help us overcome some frustrating challenges.
OK, A Short Explanation of What Ontology Does
Ontology, at its most fundamental level, enables a computer to “understand” complex concepts in a way similar to how humans understand those concepts. This makes it possible for computers to process complex information such as that contained in text much the way we are familiar with computers processing spreadsheets and databases full of numerical data. Computers that can “understand” complex concepts the same way humans do will help enterprises and mere mortals automate complex and meaningful processes, break down data silos and filter the fire hose of information.