Quora Answer: Which ecommerce site has the best product ontology?

Oct 18 2014

Hard to know, as if they exist any product ontologies would be fairly hidden from view. Product ontologies that would be visible are feature trees perhaps, but the interesting thing is the application of ontology to the design of products that you can get in domain analysis and in the development of domain specific languages.

But those too would pretty well be hidden if they were in use. So I am interested in seeing if someone comes up with visible product ontologies. Quora’s topic system is not an ontology, but more a tagging system or a category system. Ontologies are at their best something that you can use to reason about something, rather than just describing it. So product ontologies one would think would be more descriptive or perhaps explanatory rather than related to proofs which touches on a much deeper level of understanding.

Now there may be ontologies for relating products to each other but then that would be a domain ontology. On the other hand there are a lot of Meta-models that can be used for describing ontologies of various sorts, but the best use of those would probably be within the product rather than about the external attributes of the product. Ideally design ontology would allow us to reason about the design alternatives within the domain that show up as features and capabilities which would appear in the feature trees that describe the product within a product line.

I treat this problem in my dissertation briefly where I talk about design ontologies in relation to the product knowing about its own design distinguishing between the product design and the designed product, where one is the allopoietic design of the product imposed on it by the designer from the outside, and the other is the design of the product that the product itself knows about which can allow it to be adaptable and resilient and have other self-* attributes which an intelligent product might have.

This relates to the idea of Autonomic systems as well. Seehttp://about.me/emergentdesign and also my papers at Archonic.net on Self-* and Autonomic Systems.

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