Archive for the ‘Ontological Emptiness’ Category

Ontological Emptiness

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

Bernard Vatant’s ontological emptiness comment on mapping of identifiers continues to haunt me.

I am tempted to say that if the identifiers are unambiguous, then an ontologically empty mapping is sufficient. What more is there to say than each of two or more identifiers do in fact identify the same subject?

That begs the identification question doesn’t it? To say that two or more identifiers identify the same subject presumes a judgment on some basis that the identifiers do in fact represent the same subject. Bernard is asserting is that a mapping in the absence of a basis for mapping is sufficient.

When put that way, “mapping in the absence of a basis for mapping,” then Bernard’s proposal seems deeply problematic, at least for human users.

For computers a mapping is always just a mapping. There may be reasons to include or exclude the basis for a mapping, but end of the day, the result is a mapping. (There may be values that trigger mappings but that isn’t the same as a “reason” for a mapping.)

For the human user, on the other hand, the information “behind” each identifier, is what they use to form a judgment about the subject an identifier represents. That enables them to form a judgment about the mapping of identifiers. And whether they wish to follow the same mapping.

Perhaps we should separate the question of how to communicate to a user why a mapping has occurred from the simple fact of mapping in an information system? The information system is incapable of caring by definition and perhaps the basis for mapping is simply clutter from its perspective. The human user, on the other hand, needs the information that is meaningless to the information system.

CoReference Service

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

Coreference as Service by Bernard Vatant says the ontological emptiness of an identifier mapping service determines its usefulness.

I wonder how to know when that will be true?

That is I can imagine use cases where empty mapping of identifiers is good enough for some purpose.

In the case Bernard is talking about the identifiers are of geographic locations. Perhaps there is a common enough frame of reference for that to work.

On the other hand, I can imagine coreference services with mappings based upon “attributes” associated with identifiers.

How to judge between which one to use seems like an open question to me.