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skeptical ontologist RSS Feed (Mountain View, CA United States)

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Ontologies: A Silver Bullet for Knowledge Management and Electronic Commerce
Ontologies: A Silver Bullet for Knowledge Management and Electronic Commerce
by Dieter Fensel
Edition: Hardcover
10 used & new from $2.62

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Beware the Hype, April 8, 2002
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What I liked:
This book is a good introduction to its subject, with an overview of ontology "standards" and commercial applications. That's why I bought it.

It was completed in August of 2000, and so was published before reality set in on the many technologies and companies used as case studies here. I feel that I should have known to avoid a book claiming to reveal the "silver bullet" for KM and e-commerce. I already knew from first-hand experience that there is no such thing. (That is my experience-based bias.)

Fensel is guilty of the worst of the hype that was common during the e-commerce boom. For example, in naming companies who have brought ontology-related products or services to market he repeatedly cites revenue and market size numbers which have no bearing or relevance on the quality of the technology or applications (but only on the extent of the hype and the ignorance).

The companies and on-line marketplaces cited here are either a small shell of their former selves, or are gone completely. The many ontology "standards" cited are not standard at all, but just proposed standards which have few if any viable commercial applications.

The reality is that ontologies and semantic technologies in general are still very hard to deploy successfully -- and it will likely remain that way for some time to come. It appears as if ontology standards activity has stopped. (As of April 2002 for example, the site hasn't been updated since August of 2000.)

The book is short and does not cover the subject in much detail. Still, it provides an overview and perhaps a few ideas for those who are working hard on the long, slow path to successful deployment of technologies based on imbedded semantic knowledge.

There are no secrets to success in this book. I don't know what the opposite of a "silver bullet" is, but that is what you will find here. [update 2011: the site, mentioned above, is now a parked domain; that's a clear and strong signal of the marketplace's response to at least some of the ideas in this book!]

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