March 2006 Archives

Top Level Ontology

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top level ontology

After nearly 3 months work I've finally finished the a 6 level "top level ontology" (TLO). A TLO starts at "thing" and then works down to provide successively more specific categories for every thing that there is - both tangible and intangible.

The 6 tiers appears to be enough to get to the categories that we use every day. For instance a path through the ontology might be:

// 0 = thing
// 1 = tangible
// 2 = organic
// 3 = living
// 4 = animal
// 5 = chordata
// 6 = mammal

(you'll notice we're not using strict scientific taxonomies).

Pushing to levels 7 and 8 would probably be enough to actually enumerate every thing that there is. Of course that would be a huge job - but we have a secret weapon - Halo. Once we've given Halo the AI we are going to ask her to start filling the gaps. So for instance she knows that there must be types of "mammal", so she just needs to ask visitors to give her the name of a mammal, and perhaps a short description. Well, we'll see how it goes. There are lots of other ways we can use the TLO, and we'll cover those in more detail at in due course.

As for the statistics. The TLO has just over 1100 topics in it. We have also generated 2600 RDF triples which provide basic description occurences, associations and facets for these topics, yielding a total file of around 3700 triples. I guess we could easily add another couple of thousand just fleshing the assocs, occurences and facets out before we even start including level 7/8 topics!

It'll be interesting to see how this new data changes the way that Halo works. We'll let you you know when its loaded up.

Heard a lot anbout this when iit came out in hardback last year. Now in paperback, but almost put off by the "the next Da Vince Code" sticker on the cover. Amazon reviews are mixed (mind you they were for Singularity Sky too!)

Should have been put off! Very poor, and it's only the first part of a trilogy so it doesn't even get to a proper ending (or even I suppose the interesting stuff).

Millennium Point School Trip

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millennium wall

Tom Peter's had it in his rejuvenation 50 - volunteer to go on a school trip with your kids. So when Ruth's class went off to Millennium Point during Science Week it seemed like the time had come. The day was fun, if loud, and the changes to ThinkTank generally good. Certainly the new space science section is fun - pilot a shuttle or programme a mars rover, and they's updated the future gallery a bit (still got to get Halo in there!).


The hioghlight for everybody though was the new planetarium. All dirven by PCs and PC projectors, not a Zeiss projector in sight, but really well put together, good blend of traditioanl star gazing, space images and video, and a presenter who knew his stuff. Certainly be taking the kids back for another trip to see the other shows.

Umanify - PhotoAvatars

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umanify: the human face of technology

Animated 2D photos. A bit spooky like all photo-realistic avatars; for them to work they really have got to be very very good. Will be sticking with Sitepal for the moment.

This month the British Standards Institution finally published the “Publicly Available Specification 78 (PAS 78): Guide to Good Practice in Commissioning Accessible Web Sites”. PAS 78 has been under development by the BSI and the Disability Rights Commission (DRC) for many months. Its intention is to provide those commissioning and designing web sites with clear guidance as to how to implement accessibility effectively.

Sgt Smith's Battle

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Paul Smith Battle - a US Army produced machinima using their America's Army FPS. The second Machinima drama doc - and the first "official" one?


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Aeroscraft are proposing to build som serious airships. Real shades of Jerry Cornelius!


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survivors1.jpg survivors1.jpg

Nick and I have been getting back in to Survivors
- the BBC/Terry Nation post-virus epidemic drama series of the late 70s. The acting is terrible, plot ropey, dialogue horrendous and production standards oh-so-lo. But the idea, the concept is superb. Put in modern day terms, what if Bird Flu crossed into humans and killed 99.99% of the UK population? Nick, Deb and I have now spent so much criticising the execution of the original Survivors that Nick and I are starting up a new web site to develop a robust scenario and description for a 21st Century Survivors scenario. Wiki URL to follow.
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