At the first SWO meeting in Manchester we started the meeting with one primary goal: we would build our ontology of software without discussing ontologies.
Obviously, this sounds odd. And probably not possible. And yet the outcome of the meeting was a rich collection of ontology requirements, competency questions for engineering and testing and a prioritised list of software properties. The beginnings of any good ontology I have always asserted.
More important perhaps, is that the community users participating were largely not ontology builders. They were experts in various, diverse areas of software and data use, analysis and preservation and over two days their time was much to valuable to argue over ontological theory.
Instead, we focused on asking the following questions:
- How would you describe the software you use in your work?
- How would you describe the data that you use in your work?
- If you wanted to know about other people’s software/data, what questions would you like to ask?
From these simple questions we received many answers and some of which you can see in the above image, on colourful post-it notes. Clustering these together, some emergent categories began to appear.;
Licensing, versioning, data, function/use, algorithms, life cycle, supplier, dependencies, interface, source code location, cost of ownership, platform, architecture.
In a second task, we then collected competency questions (addressing point 3 above) – (in ontology engineering such questions are vital to establishing how the ontology will be used, what questions it should answer and to testing and validating the final product).The number collected was large (91) and as such as we have created a separate blog article in which the competency questions are listed. So a good few hours work, and no use or mention of the ‘O’ word.