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Showing posts from October, 2006

What is an Ontology for?

I am sure that everyone who has ever dabbled in the area of Ontology has been asked that question. Personally, I have never heard a truly convincing response; even though I strongly feel that Ontologies are quite important.

I recently listened to a radio segment in which someone in Algeria (I think) was complaining about the new law that required all teaching to be done in Arabic. It seems that most university-level education is in French, and that many parents try to send their kids to schools that teach in French. The issue was that Arabic simply does not have the vocabulary demanded by a modern high-tech education.

Arabic is not alone in this dilemma: French itself is littered with Les mots Anglais; and English is a true hodge-podge of Anglo-Saxon, French, German, Hindu, Japanese, and many other languages. It often happens that when a culture acquires a set of concepts, it does so in the language of the originators of those concepts. It is often considerably easier to import wholesa…

Giving the customers what they want

I do not believe that I am an elitist, but at the same time, I wonder about that phrase. To me, it implies an abdication of responsibility. Which is better: to give the customer what he asks for or to solve the real problem?

Here is what I mean. Occasionally, someone asks me for some tool/gadget/software program that strikes me as not really addressing the problem. This can be for any number of reasons; the customer has an immediate pain point and wants to address the specific requirement, the customer is already fixated on the technology and want that solution, the customer has been told that the answer is SOAP (and what was the question?).

As a professional, that puts me in a dilemma: either I end up arguing with the customer or I hold my nose and give him what he so plainly wants even if I think that it is not the right answer. Given my temperament, it means that I usually end up contradicting the client and thereby losing the deal.

Today I ended up doing that (I think, it may be too …