Getting ready

The title says it all, so I don’t have to say anything in the body of the post. That’s why I’ll change topics completely and write about frivolous things like:

Tim Berners-Lee interview for BBC: Sir Berners-Lee is a celebrity in the world, because I guess he created the World Wide Web. In this interesting article he mentions how blogging and wikis have transformed the web into something closer to what he thought it was supposed to be. Interesting that he doesn’t talk at any point about the “Semantic Web,” another of his inventions, one that is still to see the actual light of the day. I could right now go through a series of articles about why ontologies are gaining less and less interest in the actual knowledge representation community, but I’ll spare you from that, except from maybe giving you the original spark to all this anti-ontology movement: Sirky’s post.

I’ll just go through a quick discussion why I think the whole movement is correct in some aspects, but falls short in many others.

First let’s say that I like ontologies. I think they are useful if used carefully. They are able to present a consistent and clean universe of ideas and allow the manipulation of these ideas in a safe way. But what is the problem with them? Locality! Ontologies work well when they are global, or at least work globally. However, knowledge is local – a person is a specialist on a certain field and defines this field in relation to itself and not anything else.

I could go into a very elaborate example right now, but I’ll skip that for the sake of not boring 99% of all my readers. Just try to think of something you are expert on. Let’s say, music. Now try to compare classical music to popular music. Try to define common things and how they interrelate. Then after you are done, show this to a classical music expert and/or a popular music expert. Do you know what you are going to get? Well, most probably either people saying that your model is missing important parts, or that it is actually incorrect. For example (grr, I said I wasn’t going to go through an example), some people would put “tonality” as a song concept. However, tonality in classical music is a much broader concept (because it changes a lot throughout the piece) than on popular music. Actually, tonality is not a very useful concept in popular music, as most songs are on very similar tones, to make them easier to sing comfortably. Then even inside popular music this changes.

Of course you can get into the discussion of what is classical and popular music… This is when I change topic!

Onto… the Blue Angels… They were here in Seattle last weekend for the great Sea Fair. They close the bridges and let them fly around in circles around the city, passing very close to some buildings. They play around and make some people very excited.

I can say I understand the excitement. I was an airplane-junkie in the past. I had many books about airplanes and knew a whole lot about the difference between many models (at least what my inability to memorize things allowed me to remember). I wanted to be an airplane pilot and even got into Aeronautics Engineering in Brazil. However, very soon I started realizing that that’s not really that exciting. With the very powerful jet engines we have right now and very good control algorithms that are added to the modern airplanes, flying an airplane is not that hard any more. Making very complicated shapes in the air with your airplane is not at all that hard, considering that the control algorithms on board of the plane do most of the work for you. The only thing you have to deal with is the Gs of force that you have to go through on each maneuver. In other words, aircraft shows became boring to me. As boring as fireworks (ok, maybe a little less boring than fireworks). So I just decided not to watch it… However, I had to watch some of it on my way to the gym on Sunday.

Finally, I’m having a lot of fun with the toys that I have bought lately. They are all mine, you know, until somebody decides to buy them back from me. At least I ran away from spending $500 more on a camera for a friend today. Not that I really didn’t want to buy it, it is just that I don’t have that much time to go after it and make sure that I’ll have space in my suitcase. So… Maybe next time!

Alright, time to have dinner and get back to packing here. I have to make sure I won’t forget anything important.

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