Beyond Newspeak: Three arguments for the persistence of the informal in the creation and use of computational ontologies

Frederico Fonseca, James Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The creation and use of computational ontologies that represent a wide variety of information sources has been an assumed necessity for communication on the Semantic Web. Embedded in this necessity comes the challenge of to codify or to collaborate. The codify view fits very well with an objectivist view of knowledge management and with the current use of computational ontologies as an engineering artifact. The collaborate view, is more aligned with a philosophical view of ontology, mostly from a hermeneutical perspective based on the work of Heidegger. Computational ontologies are limited by the condition of consistency and work well on communication within a single perspective. On the other hand, ontology from a hermeneutical perspective is explicitly useful in speaking across perspectives. The view that we hold in this paper is that both are important and complementary to each other. We frame our discussion of to codify or to collaborate in terms the Tower of Babel problem and the ensuing Newspeak solution. The need to allow multiple, and sometimes incompatible, models to coexist leads to the Tower of Babel problem. A solution to this problem would be the creation of a new language, simpler and less capable of expressing different perspectives, Newspeak. We also give an explanation of the importance of the tacit in all communication and we give three arguments for the persistence of the informal. We conclude that the process of reflective reasoning described here is the context in play when in the appropriate use of consistent computational ontologies, as well as being the foundation of collaborative communicative enterprises.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)196-205
Number of pages10
JournalKnowledge Management Research and Practice
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Management Information Systems
  • Business and International Management
  • Library and Information Sciences
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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