Re: Viewer Engine

From: John J. Deneen (
Date: Mon Aug 07 2000 - 01:31:45 PDT

> The "ViewerEngine" seems to me to be the BigDeal, in that it
> is the primary non-email interface to the system which gives
> users access to all the cool extended functionality of OHS.

An ontology is an shared and common understanding of some domain that can be
communicated across people and computers. An ontology can be defined as a
formal, explicit specification of a shared conceptualization.
"Conceptualization" refers to an abstract model of some phenomenon in the world.
"Explicit" means that the type of concepts and relations between them are
explicitely defined, "shared" reflects the fact that an ontology captures
consensual knowledge, which is accepted by a group of people. "Formal" refers to
the fact that an ontology should be machine readable and acessable. Typically an
ontology is construced in an collaborative effort of domain experts, end-users
and IT specialists.

Ontologies, that provide shared and common domain theories, will be a key asset
for such a Semantic Web as envisioned by
Tim Berners-Lee. They can be seen as meta data that explicitly represent
semantics of data in machine processable way. Ontology-based reasoning services
can operationalize this semantics for providing various services. By making
explicit the link between the form and the content of information, ontologies
help people and computers to access the information they need, end effectively
communicate each other. They have therefore a crucial role to enable
content-based access, interoperability, and communication across the Web,
providing it with a qualitatively new level of service: the Semantic Web. It
weaves together a net linking incredible large parts of the human knowledge and
complements it with machine processability. Various automated services will
support the human user in achieving goals via accessing and providing
information present in a machine-understandable form. This process will
ultimately lead to a highly knowledgeable system with various specialized
reasoning services that may support us in nearly all aspects of our daily life
becoming as central as access to electric power.

In fact, research on ontology, that was rather confined to the philosophical
sphere in the past, has now gained a specific role in research fields as diverse
as knowledge representation, knowledge engineering, qualitative modelling,
database design, information systems and database integration, natural language
understanding, information retrieval and extraction, object-oriented software
development, knowledge management and organization, agent-based systems
development. Current applications areas are disparate, including electronic
commerce, enterprise integration, digital libraries, medicine, biology,
bioinformatics, geographic information systems, legal information systems. The
key role of ontologies for content-based data interchange in these areas is
testified by
the interest shown by many international standardization bodies and initiatives,
including ISO, ANSI, the W3C, including DARPA's Agent Markup Lanaguage (DAML),,

So in regards to the "viewing engine", SHOE is a small extension to HTML which
allows web page authors to annotate their web documents with machine-readable
knowledge. SHOE makes real intelligent agent software on the web possible.

HTML was never meant for computer consumption; its function is for displaying
data for humans to read. The "knowledge" on a web page is in a human-readable
language (usually English), laid out with tables and graphics and frames in ways
that we as humans comprehend visually. Unfortunately, intelligent agents aren't
human. Even with state-of-the-art natural language technology, getting a
computer to read and understand web documents is very difficult. This makes it
very difficult to create an intelligent agent that can wander the web on its
own, reading and comprehending web pages as it goes.

Eugene Eric Kim wrote:

> John,
> On Sun, 6 Aug 2000, John J. Deneen wrote:
> > > One of the up-front requirements is that the viewing engine will support
> > > all kinds of output, although the system that we build will initially
> > > support HTML w/ JavaScript (or as Joe says, XHTML with ECMAScript).
> > >
> >
> > SHOE and XML
> >
> I can certainly see how SHOE might be something we want to explore
> regarding metacontent for our documents, and for some of the stuff that
> Jack and Howard want to do, but could you explain what it has to do with
> the viewing engine?
> -Eugene
> --
> +=== Eugene Eric Kim ===== ===== ===+
> | "Writer's block is a fancy term made up by whiners so they |
> +===== can have an excuse to drink alcohol." --Steve Martin ===========+

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