[Xesam] The Ontology Open Source Project and OSCAF - 2nd try

Leo Sauermann leo.sauermann at dfki.de
Sun May 31 05:43:32 PDT 2009

+1 on Stefan Deckers summary (thanks for investing your time for it)!

Ivan, you yourself are Gnome foundation member so you know what it means 
to publicly say "yes, we work together", cooperate in a larger group, 
and standardize. Its not just code, it also needs human discussion and 
Ivan, in your mail from 24th April you yourself suggest
* we need updates
* we need to document it
* we need bugtracking
All that is excellent and OSCAF agrees to it, was working like this for 
three years as part of the work on dev.nepomuk.semanticdesktop.org's 
ontology maintenance process. From OSCAF, we all agreed to move it 
either to sf.net or to freedesktop. We already agree, no need to discuss 
it longer.

But beyond that, we need OSCAF to ensure a standardization and 
evangelization process, accompanying the development. Stefan Decker is 
director of a 100+ person research institute and an influental W3C 
member, I guess he won't join an open source development project as 
But he already joined a non-for-profit open-source standardization 
organization - he is an OSCAF member, to help evangelize KDE and employ 
KDE developers. People like him are very helpful, they know more than I 
do, and including them formally is helpful.
Giving Stefan a voice that we need to listen to within OSCAF is helpful.

(....  people like Stefan Decker who were hardcore coders themselves and 
know that open and free standards are good and are -thank god- now 
directors of research institutes and can convince the EU to pay open 
source development. thanks mainly to his engagement in the beginning, 
nepomuk.kde.org was funded. More funding and good publicity can come 
from him and other like-minded OSCAF members in the future).

OSCAF is also about communication beyond the code and the core 
communities, for example with funding bodies, governments, and 
universities. Its good to have standardization people around you, they 
help you to get political backup when needed.
We also know what standardization work means, and that includes having a 
standardization body.

We have reached a consensus of developing and standardization, we are 
ready to continue with the work now. lets stop talking and do it.

It was Laprévote Arnaud who said at the right time 29.05.2009 15:17 the 
following words:
> Hello to all,
> It looks like a perfect, efficient and promising compromise to me.
> Friendly to all, 

I think it is more than a compromise, it continues the work by 
Xesam/Nepomuk/Freedeskop/OSCAF and combines the positive aspects of all.


my 2c:
Ontology work is coding, standardization, and evangelization work.
FOAF was never coded, it was standardized in a Pub between a few pints. 
Dublin Core was not coded, it was standardized over 5 years amongst 
with OSCAF we bring in people that can evangelize the technology beyond 
kde and gnome, and who can help with their past experience in 
standardization work. Also, we bring in the original nepomuk ontology 
developers who can be asked about "why was it done like this?" and can 
comment on the ontologies.

Without OSCAF, only as an open source project, I would never invest my 
time into any further work because the people who are needed for 
evangelization and standardization work would leave.
Also we need to connect freedesktop to aperture.sf.net, which is better 
in a neutral body.

Stefan Decker was the lead person from 2003 to 2005 to initiate the 
NEPOMUK project, which contributed a lot (of EU money) to the community, 
now he is offering to be available for future help and to evangelize the 
open standards within an organization where he can be member. But I 
would think, as I know him, that he wants the standards to remain open 
for anyone, including Apple, Microsoft ("the enemy"), Oracle, or Nokia, 
and thus a lot more users than we can currently think of.

I myself am doing a startup (www.gnowsis.com) in Semantic Desktop and I 
would like to have an open community beyond KDE and Gnome for the 
ontologies, because I need it in aperture.sf.net.
Thats why I support OSCAF.

In the four year history of NEPOMUK, which lead to OSCAF, it did never 
make money or oppress development, but assured the quality of 
development. No request for comments or bug report remained unheard and 
all changes to the ontologies were well-documented, reasoned, and 
argued. there were no compromises, but solutions. i.e. read the change 
notes in the latest PIMO spec and the corresponding open tickets/bug 
reports that still need to be addressed.
- checkout the changes-section]
- these tickets document what needs to be done, more document what has 
been done]

The current OSCAF people and organisations (DFKI, DERI, KDE) are 
non-for-profit NGOs who did work a lot in the past four years creating 
open standards for the common good. By joining OSCAF and freedesktop 
together, we want to continue to contribute, and we want to

It was Decker, Stefan who said at the right time 30.05.2009 17:02 the 
following words:
> Hi Ivan,
> Ivan Frade wrote:
>> Hi,
>> 2009/5/29 Sebastian Trüg <strueg at mandriva.com>
>> 	Hi everybody,
>> 	after the long discussion on the Xesam list which ended in mid air and a long
>> 	private discussion with members of the former Nepomuk project and OSCAF we
>> 	came up with a compromise. Let me mention the most important points:
>> All this emails is based on the assumption that OSCAF must exists. There is no good reason for that (except burocracy overload, veto power for certain people, and pervert the meritocracy way to do the things).
> I want to live in world in which I can collaborate with anyone, not just the users of one particular desktop system - in the same way that I can watch Web pages from everyone, not just pages which were created from users of a particular operating system. 
> We need to ensure that a future metadata and collaboration architecture does not get dependent on a particular desktop environment - otherwise we have interesting functions on one desktop, but continue to have the interoperability hell that we have now and a continuation of the current situation which we hoped to overcome: a world separated by system boundaries.
> The Web is the role model here: it allows information exchange across platforms, but only for limited information and collaboration.
> If we want to allow a similar interoperability on the desktop we need to ensure that the  developed architecture is acceptable to everyone - of course the Open Source Community, but also companies like Apple, Microsoft, Oracle, and probably even more important smaller companies working in the space and producing products for the various operating systems. 
> We need to ensure interoperability across platforms.
> But this does not fall from heaven and will not happen magically. 
> This requires hard work and agreement processes by the users and developers from different platforms. It requires someone or something that organises this agreement.
> We today and now have the perhaps historic opportunity to enable people to work better together.
> And that is the purpose of OSCAF because we did not see how to do with with existing instruments.
> But it is also clear that we need all parties pulling in one direction.
> You said:
>> burocracy overload, 
> Every agreement process requires hard work and is painful because one own view is challenged by the views of others. I have particiapted in W3C standardsation groups, and yes, it is painful. However, if we want to avoid fragmentation I don't see another way other than engaging with each other. This engaging and challenging of each others assumptions is the real work. As with every organization some bureaucracy will be undeniably involved, and of course this need to be minimized.
>> veto power for certain people, and pervert the meritocracy way to do the things).
> An interesting property of agreement processes ala W3C is that _every participant in the discussion_ has veto power. However, if no agreement is reached everybody loses.
> The  group loses or wins together.  The assumption is that everybody has an interest in
> reaching an agreement. If that is not the case the process is doomed.
> Wrt to meritocracy:
> You are in so far right as an agreement process is often not driven my not merit but pragmatics.
> The problem is how to determine merit: the most prevalent way is to let the the user community decide.
> In this case the users  for operating and collaboration software. This will take a long time (e.g. 20 years) and in the end of the day after hard competition fights one collaboration technology will win and  own 80% of the market. With an agreement instead how much more progress could we achieve in 20 years!
> The Web itself is not a meritocracy in all aspects.  It is based on discussions and agreements organised by W3C, and so far it seems to work well -  the Web is not yet fragmented like the operating system world, although many organisations (Microsoft, Netscape during the browser wars) have tried.
> The reason the Web is not fragmented is that W3C organised the agreement process.
>> You say "compromise". I guess that happens when you have two solutions and find a middle term. In >this case we have: a good solution (open source developement) and a second solution that is the same, >but adding a layer of useless burocracy on top (that does no actual work and gets money). Either you >clarify what is the value that OSCAF add or it shouldn't be added. 
> See above. My core assumption is we are all interested in interoperability, getting more and more parties signing up and making their systems interoperable.
> That is what OSCAF needs to do - organize the agreement process.
> How this is organized is a different story - it may make perfect sense to develop first and agree later, which would mean to change software if the agreement (which always involved changes) is derived later). But we need the willingness and insight of all parties that agreement and discussion is necessary, otherwise  there is no point in starting and we lose an historic opportunity to bring the different worlds together. 
> WRT to money - I assume you did not check the facts.
> I paid for the domain OSCAF.org 400 Euro out of my personal funds which I will never get back. I am also willing to donate the SemanticDesktop.org domain, which I personally paid for already for several years.  OSCAF is a not-for profit and I don't see who would earn any money with it - nor is the intention to earn money with it. The intention is to use the resources for professional organisational work, which I would not want to and can not do on a daily  basis.
> As a university professor my salary is paid by the Irish taxpayer , the Nepomuk developments were paid by European taxpayer and by the companies involved (e.g. IBM, HP etc).
> However, I am willing to personally pay much more  from my personal funds if there is the slightest chance that we can bring the different worlds together and enable people to collaborate without artificial system boundaries. We can do for the desktop what the Web did for text documents, but we can only do this together.
> Ivan,  if you or anybody  know a better way than OSCAF to organise and start this agreement I am curious.
> OSCAF is based on my own work in W3C standardization groups, and I discussed OSCAF with Tim Berners-Lee. He suggested to also create a link to W3C, which I think is a good idea.
> But you need a entity which is not biased by any specific vested interests and which is credible enough to get different parties together.
> So, how would you do this?
> All the best,
> Stefan
>> 	1. OSCAF
>> 	There was a lot of concern about OSCAF. However, OSCAF has always been
>> 	intended to be an open and non-profit organization to give an "official" face
>> 	to the desktop ontology maintenance. It is not driven by a specific company,
>> 	nor will it hold any copyright over the ontologies. You can look at it as the
>> 	KDE e.V. for the desktop ontologies. The "scary" texts on the homepage will be
>> 	changed, the semanticdesktop.org domain will be transferred to OSCAF.
>> 	The latter is important since we need the domain to stay with an impartial
>> 	player.
>>  XESAM maintaining nepomuk otologies:
>> 1) There is ontology maintenance
>> 2) It is driven by meritocracy = the people who does the work 
>> 3) The copyright works as in any other open source project
>> 4) No fees/burocracy -> just work
>> 5) No "scary" texts, or legal subterfuges.
>>  Besides, KDE e.V.  (or GNOME Foundation) doesn't have veto power over the contents of the respective projects. 
>> 	2. The actual development
>> 	The actual development will happen on freedesktop.org. We can reuse existing
>> 	development facilities such as an svn, mailing lists, task trackers, and so
>> 	on. Whenever a release is to be made the new version will be uploaded to the
>> 	OSCAF server (might not be that important to "us" desktop developers at the
>> 	moment but is for semantic web compatibility).
>>  As i said few mails ago, The open source community does the work and put the resources, and OSCAF "tag" a release (and gets the money). Sounds unfair. 
>> 	3. Copyright
>> 	The ontologies will be released under a free licence. Contributors will keep
>> 	their copyright. We propose a dual MIT/CCBY licensing since ontologies can be
>> 	seen as creative work rather than real source-code.
>> Not sure about this. Not sure even if it is relevant at all. The current Nepomuk license is open enough to allow a open source developement.
>> 	4. Maintenance
>> 	Within the Nepomuk project tools have been developed to ensure the quality and
>> 	the validity of the ontologies. We propose to install these on the development
>> 	server (freedesktop) to ensure that
>> 	- commits do not break backwards-compatibility
>> 	- commits do not introduce contradictions
>> 	- etc.
>> Probably those tools are open source already. i dont see the big deal here.
>> 	Is this a compromise everybody can live with?
>> 	Please comment.
>> I dont like it. We are here to build ontologies (or improve the existent ones). For that we just need people working
>> and Infrastructure; everything else is superfluous. OSCAF is not providing any of those ingredients (and adding problems on top). The conclusion is easy. 
>> Regards,
>> Ivan

DI Leo Sauermann       http://www.dfki.de/~sauermann 

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