NCITS T2 Standards Meeting

John F. Sowa (
Sun, 17 May 1998 21:49:14 -0400

For the past two years, the ontology workshops have been held as
ad hoc meetings sponsored by the NCITS T2 Committee on Information
Interchange and Interpretation. That committee is also in charge
of the ANSI standards for KIF and conceptual graphs (which by the way
should be sent out for letter ballot in June, as soon as some editing
details are finished).

>From May 13 to 15, the T2 meeting was held in Pennsylvania (near the
intersection of PA, NY, and NJ) in conjunction with the NCITS L8
Committee on Data Elements, which includes several people who have
also attended the T2 ontology meetings). One topic discussed was
a possible merger of T2 and L8 into a single committee. Both groups
agreed that such a merger would be highly desirable. From the
perspective of the ontology work, that merger has several advantages:

1. There is a large overlap of interests, which include ontology,
languages like CGs and KIF, which can be used to represent
ontologies, the mapping of ontologies to computational elements,
and the tools and facilities for managing all of the above.

2. Recent reorganizations in ISO have transfered the international
projects assigned to T2 and L8 into the same working group,
whose official name is JTC1 SC32 WG2 on Metadata. Following is
the path through the ISO hierarchy leading to that group:

Top: ISO/IEC Joint Technical Committee 1, Information Technology

Next: Standing Committee 32, Data Management and Interchange

Next: Working Group 2, Metadata

3. The larger, merged committee would have more clout and visibility
in dealing with other organizations that are consumers or developers
of ontologies and tools for dealing with them.

4. To avoid making people travel to multiple meetings on topics
that might be of marginal interest to them, the merged committee
would meet for only one plenary session per year. That would be
the only one that anyone would need to attend in order to maintain
voting rights. For various projects in that committee, such as
ontology, additional working sessions could be scheduled at other
times and places during the year.

5. If and when any proposed standards are developed for ontologies,
the merged NCITS committee and the ISO Metadata working group would
be the natural place to submit them. SC32, which is the parent
committee of WG2, also includes working groups for database languages
(i.e. SQL and whatever it evolves into) and data interchange. Those
groups are potential allies and customers for ontologies.

As the next step in the merger, the organizers will contact NCITS
(which by the way is pronounced EN-SIGHTS and stands for National
Committee on Information Technology Standards) to determine the
administrative procedures. The most likely name for the new committee
is Metadata, which is the name of the ISO working group. Another
suggestion is Metadata and Interchange, which adds a word from the
name of SC32 (but adding that word might draw some flack from other
committees whose primary task is interchange).

John Sowa