Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Incubating Ontologies

To incubate an ontology is to create a data model to integrate in a common structure. A particular set of data without a priori assumptions about how the final product should look like. The task of turning biological data into manageable digitalized formats demands for annotations of the data, which often happens in a sloppy, deorganized manner. Structures for organizing it often take considerable time to developed and are not always fully usefull. Agreement on all parts involved is also hard to achieve.
Therefore, incubating an ontology is the means through which unstructured, annotated data slowly and steadily gains organization by maintenance and small aditions until it turns into a usefull ontology, a strong infrastructure gained from inferences and corrections on the initial annotations, that can be distributed, shared and fit the purpose of bridging the informational gap that exists between universal data storage and mining.
Using an analogy, such ontology development would be somewhat like the process of building a bridge between two points. The first bridge would be "sloppy", just to fit the purpose of enabling a rough passage between the two points. With time and usage, this bridge could then begin to be elaborated, the materials used to build it would differ, become more sturdy until one could easily and safely go through it. Of course, not all first stage bridges achieve this last stage, but those that do will hardly ever lose it's importance as a landmark.