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Humanist Archives: Nov. 13, 2019, 8:29 a.m. Humanist 33.398 - non-hierarchical concept ontologies?

                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 33, No. 398.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
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        Date: 2019-11-12 12:41:17+00:00
        From: Jan Christophe Meister 
        Subject: Non-hierarchical concept ontologies

Dear All,

for the next development phase of our text annotation and analysis tool
CATMA (https://catma.de) we'd like to find out more about the theory,
the epistemic benefits and the computational approaches toward what we
have tentatively called "non-hierarchical concept ontologies". Here's why:

In CATMA (as in many other annotation tools that implement markup
schemata) a concept ontology takes on the form of a tagset, which - in
the UI as well as conceptually - is presented to the user as a tree
data-structure.  One of CATMA's core features, however, is the ability
to extend and modify tagsets 'on the fly' while annotating documents,
something which our users tend to do quite regularly. And sooner or
later they then come up with the idea that they would want to re-order
tags and sub-tags across established parent-child-dependencies.  This is
where things become interesting not just pragmatically (we use a graph
data base, so dependencies could in principle be re-calculated and
re-mapped), but more so conceptually. In this perspective the question
is not just whether one can fix and/or extend an existing
structure/ontology - the question is whether one can productively THINK
a non-hierarchical concept ontology and clearly identify its heuristic
added value. What exactly is the added value of a 'fact-turned-category'
derived from a triple-store query, and what are its limits?

Against this backdrop I'd like to ask whether HUMANIST readers could
point me to philosophical as well as CS approaches - literature,
projects, etc. - that reflect on the philosophical as well as the
computational affordances and constraints of concept ontologies that
might be anything but hierarchically ordered: e.g. networked,
distributional, probabilistic, etc.

Many thanks,


Dr. Jan Christoph Meister
Universitätsprofessor für Digital Humanities
Schwerpunkt Deutsche Literatur und Textanalyse
Institut für Germanistik
Universität Hamburg
Überseering 35
22 297 Hamburg
+49  40 42838 2972
+49 172 40865 41

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