Some fascinating drawings and examples have been presented at OntologySummit2007
The question is, during the initial time when the extent and value of ontologies is first being so passionately discussed and formulated, how to create a simple drawing so everyone discussing ontologies knows they are talking about the same thing? At this point, it should not be a beautiful drawing or even topic map, it should less than an architectural plan or logic diagram so the drawing itself does not become more important than the information it is registering.
The reason such a drawing is needed was beautifully explained by Tom Gruber, slide 4, Walking Down the Path: Garden or Rainforest? in the Ontology Framework session:
If all people using digital information are to collectively create an artwork rather than a mess, we first have to see the extent of what we are dealing with. Deborah McGuinness showed this in a spectrum today:
If such a spectrum was available for public use, how could it be used to evaluate which available ontologies may suit your communication and computational goals? How could the spectrum itself be portrayed in a compact portrait nearly without a format or required language?
The second iteration of Places & Spaces:Mapping Science at the New York Public Library Science, Industry, and Business Research Library asked exactly this question. Which shapes and arrangements would be the optimal shared reference system for all of science?
Is it a circle as Brad Paley visually indexed in the Text Arc History of Science?
Is it a clock as Kevin Boyack and Dick Klavans laid out in the Map of Scientific Paradigms?
The benefit of gathering a large group of working ontologies together in a relatively fixed arrangement would be being able to see how your goals may potentially fit with specifications already carefully assembled by others – even if the other ontologies may be working towards a different purpose.
To evaluate ontology fitness, Denise Bedford at the World Bank created a shared reference layout.Three examples are overlaid to directly compare fit. Please see the original slides (10HO) on Ontolog Forum.
In this sense, the most appropriate map of science from Places & Spaces may be the simple, straight forward Radio Frequency Spectrum Allocation Chart by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration
How great would it be to have a standardized process to create the dreaded requirements documents simply in order to do test runs in a central ontology registry to receive a simple report, that is barely a graphic, to show on the best fits of various imports? Instead of radio frequency allocations, why not allocating more or less of this or that ontology from certain points on the spectrum to achieve your communication and computational goals without reinventing the wheel?
The only purpose is place to start, in order to find beauty in information.