Abraham Bernstein on users

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"The regular user is not able to cope with strict inheritance."

Abraham Bernstein of the University of Zürich was today at the AIFB and gave a talk on SimPack - A Generic Java Library for Similarity Measures in Ontologies. Not being an expert in mapping, alignment and similarity I still saw some of the interesting ideas in it, and I liked the big number of different approaches towards measuring similiarity.

Which struck me much more was the above statement, which is based on his experience with, you know, normal users, who are "not brainwashed with object-oriented paradigms". Another example he gave was his 5 years old kid being perfectly able to cope with default reasoning - the "pinguins are birds, but pinguins can't fly"- thing, and thus do not follow strict inheritance.

This was quite enlightening, and leads to many questions: if the user can't even deal with subsumption, how do we expect him to be able to deal with disjunctions, complements or inverse functional properties?

Abraham's statement is based on experience with the Process Handbook, and not just drawn from thin air. There are a lot of use cases for the Semantic Web that do *not* require the participation of the normal end user, thus there still lie plenty of possibilities for great research. But I still believe that the normal end user has to unlock the Semantic Web in order to really make the whole idea lift off and fly. But in order to achieve that we need to tear down the wall that Abraham describes here.

Any ideas how to do this?

Originally published on Semantic Nodix

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