Topics

#ontology Can we come up with a better term than "Flow Object"? #ontology

 

Not trying to start a flame war or anything, but "flow object" is just... not great. It is inconsistent with all our other core terms, it rolls off the tongue like a porcupine, and I guarantee you that it will produce a confused look on 80% of the faces of people who see it for the first time.

The problem is that "flow" is good, but has no natural counterpart (aside from "flow"...). One possibility would be to switch to "flow" and "exchange" - I am sure this was considered and rejected at some point, however. We define "flow object" as:
Entity that is able to be exchanged between two activities, produced or consumed by activities, or stored by a (stock accumulation) activity. This is one of the identifying dimensions of a datapoint (and the database).
"Entity" is probably too loose, as is "object". "Flux" is a bit too cute, and too similar to "flow." What about "item"? It encapsulates the idea that every thing we want to track would be an item instance. One definition is "an individual article or unit, especially one that is part of a list, collection, or set," which fits pretty well. Or maybe someone else has a creative idea? There are lots of online thesaurus sites out there :)

If there is previous discussion on this, please post links - it is hard to get much from the wiki history.

Agneta
 

So the issue is back!

Well I did raise the point about terms like flow and 'flow object' being confusing and likely that someone new to the ontology might have some difficulty in understanding the differences or even use them interchangeably. I looked up the thesaurus and unfortunately I don't think there is anything that sufficiently translates 'object'/'thing'/'entity'. Some suggested words were- 'element', 'substance, 'item' , 'component'.  

In my humble opinion- I would like to go back to suggestions as defined in previously published LCA ontology (Kuczenski et al. 2016):

Activity- is a “thing that happens”

Flow- is a “thing in the world that exists because of some instance of an Activity."

Exchange- " An exchange is an established relationship between an activity instance and a flow instance." This can be an input/output/ determining.

 

I think this terminology is coherent with the vocabulary used by most industrial ecologist.

There is another term that I find slightly problematic is 'Balanceable properties' . As this class primarily consists of certain specific quantities, I was wondering if we could refer to it as 'quantity types' or 'quantity attributes' ?

I will also put this discussion as an issue in out GitHub repo. 

Rutger Schurgers
 

Hi group,

 

Exchange is actually what’s being used in the ecospold2 and ILCD data formats as well. They have flows as well, though they include compartment too. In the SimaPro platform, we don’t include compartments so that matches what we have in Bonsai. To keep things consistent, I’d support using these terms. We don’t use the term exchange in the platform, but I’m considering adopting it as well. The different terms we’re using now cause a lot of confusion and time lost.

 

Regards,

 

Rutger

 

From: main@bonsai.groups.io [mailto:main@bonsai.groups.io] On Behalf Of Agneta
Sent: 03 April 2019 11:37
To: main@bonsai.groups.io
Subject: Re: [bonsai] #ontology Can we come up with a better term than "Flow Object"?

 

So the issue is back!

Well I did raise the point about terms like flow and 'flow object' being confusing and likely that someone new to the ontology might have some difficulty in understanding the differences or even use them interchangeably. I looked up the thesaurus and unfortunately I don't think there is anything that sufficiently translates 'object'/'thing'/'entity'. Some suggested words were- 'element', 'substance, 'item' , 'component'.  

In my humble opinion- I would like to go back to suggestions as defined in previously published LCA ontology (Kuczenski et al. 2016):

Activity- is a “thing that happens”

Flow- is a “thing in the world that exists because of some instance of an Activity."

Exchange- " An exchange is an established relationship between an activity instance and a flow instance." This can be an input/output/ determining.

 

I think this terminology is coherent with the vocabulary used by most industrial ecologist.

There is another term that I find slightly problematic is 'Balanceable properties' . As this class primarily consists of certain specific quantities, I was wondering if we could refer to it as 'quantity types' or 'quantity attributes' ?

I will also put this discussion as an issue in out GitHub repo. 

Matteo Lissandrini (AAU)
 

Hi all,
like John Snow, I know nothing.

From an outsider perspective the current definition is extremely clear, as it related the Flow and the Object of the Flow (aka Flow Object).

While all other proposal are much more confusing (Flow and Exchange are two dynamic terms)

The only other words I can thing of would be Phenomenon for the Flow and Noumenon for the Flow Object, but I guess bothering  Kant is not a great idea :)

I suggest somebody creates a BEP then :)

Cheers,
Matteo










From: main@bonsai.groups.io [main@bonsai.groups.io] on behalf of Rutger Schurgers via Groups.Io [schurgers@...]
Sent: Wednesday, April 03, 2019 11:57 AM
To: main@bonsai.groups.io
Subject: Re: [bonsai] #ontology Can we come up with a better term than "Flow Object"?

Hi group,

 

Exchange is actually what’s being used in the ecospold2 and ILCD data formats as well. They have flows as well, though they include compartment too. In the SimaPro platform, we don’t include compartments so that matches what we have in Bonsai. To keep things consistent, I’d support using these terms. We don’t use the term exchange in the platform, but I’m considering adopting it as well. The different terms we’re using now cause a lot of confusion and time lost.

 

Regards,

 

Rutger

 

From: main@bonsai.groups.io [mailto:main@bonsai.groups.io] On Behalf Of Agneta
Sent: 03 April 2019 11:37
To: main@bonsai.groups.io
Subject: Re: [bonsai] #ontology Can we come up with a better term than "Flow Object"?

 

So the issue is back!

Well I did raise the point about terms like flow and 'flow object' being confusing and likely that someone new to the ontology might have some difficulty in understanding the differences or even use them interchangeably. I looked up the thesaurus and unfortunately I don't think there is anything that sufficiently translates 'object'/'thing'/'entity'. Some suggested words were- 'element', 'substance, 'item' , 'component'.  

In my humble opinion- I would like to go back to suggestions as defined in previously published LCA ontology (Kuczenski et al. 2016):

Activity- is a “thing that happens”

Flow- is a “thing in the world that exists because of some instance of an Activity."

Exchange- " An exchange is an established relationship between an activity instance and a flow instance." This can be an input/output/ determining.

 

I think this terminology is coherent with the vocabulary used by most industrial ecologist.

There is another term that I find slightly problematic is 'Balanceable properties' . As this class primarily consists of certain specific quantities, I was wondering if we could refer to it as 'quantity types' or 'quantity attributes' ?

I will also put this discussion as an issue in out GitHub repo. 

Bo Weidema
 

The important issue is to distinguish between the observation of a specific flow (e.g. 22 kg input of steel) and the abstract flow-object ("steel"). This distinction was not made clear in e.g. ecospold schema where the exchange = flow and the abstract flow-object is simply called "intermediateExchangeId" or "elementaryExchangeId" referring to a taxonomy of "master data".

I do not think it makes much difference if we call it flow-object or flow-item, so if there is a preference for the latter that would be OK with me. Exchange has the problem that it is easily confused with a market operation (e.g. currency exchange). So I think "flow" is still the best option, as this is either an input or an output.

Bo

Andreas Ciroth
 

Thank you Chris; I agree and would add that ‘Flow-object’ is also not too perfect. No other element is called “object”. And exchange just says: see flow.

Proposal from my side:

  • Flow object is changed to flow
  • Exchange takes the definition of flow
  • Flow is removed.

This without being aware of previous discussions, so please excuse if I am ignorant here..

All the best,

Andreas

 

Von: main@bonsai.groups.io <main@bonsai.groups.io> Im Auftrag von Chris Mutel
Gesendet: Mittwoch, 3. April 2019 11:07
An: main@bonsai.groups.io
Betreff: [bonsai] #ontology Can we come up with a better term than "Flow Object"?

 

Not trying to start a flame war or anything, but "flow object" is just... not great. It is inconsistent with all our other core terms, it rolls off the tongue like a porcupine, and I guarantee you that it will produce a confused look on 80% of the faces of people who see it for the first time.

The problem is that "flow" is good, but has no natural counterpart (aside from "flow"...). One possibility would be to switch to "flow" and "exchange" - I am sure this was considered and rejected at some point, however. We define "flow object" as:

Entity that is able to be exchanged between two activities, produced or consumed by activities, or stored by a (stock accumulation) activity. This is one of the identifying dimensions of a datapoint (and the database).

"Entity" is probably too loose, as is "object". "Flux" is a bit too cute, and too similar to "flow." What about "item"? It encapsulates the idea that every thing we want to track would be an item instance. One definition is "an individual article or unit, especially one that is part of a list, collection, or set," which fits pretty well. Or maybe someone else has a creative idea? There are lots of online thesaurus sites out there :)

If there is previous discussion on this, please post links - it is hard to get much from the wiki history.

Massimo Pizzol
 

>>> The important issue is to distinguish between the observation of a specific flow (e.g. 22 kg input of steel) and the abstract flow-object ("steel").

>>> I do not think it makes much difference if we call it flow-object or flow-item.

 

IMO this is the clearest explanation so far, thanks Bo. I am fine with the word “item” instead of “object”.

 

Note there is an enhancements branch on BEP-0003 BONSAI Ontology and I guess these discussions should be reflected there….

 

BR
Massimo

 

Rutger Schurgers
 

Hi group,

 

Bo is right, I looked at the ecospold2 source files to refresh my memory and they indeed call their master data elementary exchanges and intermediate exchanges. So it is actually only in the ILCD format that they do make the distinction between the flow-objects that they call flows and the flows that they call exchanges. And ILCD is confusing as well, as their flows are from both the technosphere and nature (so some have compartments while others don’t). So steel is a flow, as well as Carbon dioxide. That’s not very obvious, and I would say that by themselves, as we would like to consider them, they are not ‘flowing’ anywhere.

 

At PRé we haven’t come up with anything so far that covers all possible flow-objects. In the platform, we have a two types: substances and products. But the fact that they are separate and that substances also include things like labour and land use indicate that they aren’t the best solution either.

 

That was a bit of thinking out loud, not sure it is very helpful but it indicates that it has been a struggle for quite a few people already.

 

Back to what Bo suggested, intuitively flow-item sounds a bit better to me. Given the breath of things we want to cover with the term, there’s probably not much that sounds less abstract. But if someone comes up with a term that sounds a bit more friendly, I’m interested.

 

Regards,

 

Rutger

 

From: main@bonsai.groups.io [mailto:main@bonsai.groups.io] On Behalf Of Bo Weidema
Sent: 03 April 2019 12:11
To: main@bonsai.groups.io
Subject: Re: [bonsai] #ontology Can we come up with a better term than "Flow Object"?

 

The important issue is to distinguish between the observation of a specific flow (e.g. 22 kg input of steel) and the abstract flow-object ("steel"). This distinction was not made clear in e.g. ecospold schema where the exchange = flow and the abstract flow-object is simply called "intermediateExchangeId" or "elementaryExchangeId" referring to a taxonomy of "master data".

I do not think it makes much difference if we call it flow-object or flow-item, so if there is a preference for the latter that would be OK with me. Exchange has the problem that it is easily confused with a market operation (e.g. currency exchange). So I think "flow" is still the best option, as this is either an input or an output.

Bo

loekke@...
 

Item is fine...
/Søren

Agneta
 

My suggestions are similar to what is given in the  ILCD 
Just to reiterate I suggest to change:

Flow object (abstract ) to Flow (a thing that exists)
Flow (specific) to Exchange (a relationship between an activity and flow (object)) 

Because we dont have any compartments we dont necessarily make additional confusions as the ILCD. Moreover, I think these terms are frequently used  by practitioners and hence easy to understand (the terms were also introduced in previous LCA ontology papers). Introducing new terms can just add confusion (IMO) 

Alternatively I suggest we  just go ahead with the current terminology and open the case for a public review. 

Agneta


On Wed, 3 Apr 2019 at 13:45, <loekke@...> wrote:
Item is fine...
/Søren



--
Agneta Ghose, PhD 
Post doc, The Danish Centre for Environmental Assessment  
Aalborg University
Rendsburggade 14
Aalborg 9000
Denmark 
( +45 93 56 2051


Bo Weidema
 

To re-iterate: Flow is a verb, and should remain as the central term for our observations.

There seems to be a tendency towards preferring flow-item (instead of flow-object).

If we cannot settle this now, then add it as an issue with the arguments given in this thread.

Bo

Den 2019-04-03 kl. 13.57 skrev Agneta:

My suggestions are similar to what is given in the  ILCD 
Just to reiterate I suggest to change:

Flow object (abstract ) to Flow (a thing that exists)
Flow (specific) to Exchange (a relationship between an activity and flow (object)) 

Because we dont have any compartments we dont necessarily make additional confusions as the ILCD. Moreover, I think these terms are frequently used  by practitioners and hence easy to understand (the terms were also introduced in previous LCA ontology papers). Introducing new terms can just add confusion (IMO) 

Alternatively I suggest we  just go ahead with the current terminology and open the case for a public review. 

Agneta


On Wed, 3 Apr 2019 at 13:45, <loekke@...> wrote:
Item is fine...
/Søren


--
Agneta Ghose, PhD 
Post doc, The Danish Centre for Environmental Assessment  
Aalborg University
Rendsburggade 14
Aalborg 9000
Denmark 
( +45 93 56 2051


--

 

I added a table with what I could make of the existing systems, and the possible alternatives we have discussed, here: https://github.com/BONSAMURAIS/BONSAI-ontology-RDF-framework/blob/master/Terminology-discussion.md. Feel free to edit this if you think I have made a mistake.

> To re-iterate: Flow is a verb

Flow can be a verb or a noun, and there is something to be said for having all the core terms be nouns (I think everything else is).

Elias Sebastian Azzi
 

Hello,

Reading up that long email thread I wrote a summary of the different views expressed. I also summarise an article that describes another ontology for IE, rather different vocabulary, hoping it will help us see the ontology from a different perspective.

 

 

Alpha / Summary

 

Issue - Human vocabulary for BONSAI's core ontology

While there seems to be an agreement among the participants around the three core classes of the ontology (i.e. on their conceptual meaning), there is not yet a consensus on how these classes should be named in human readable language. There is however an agreement on the fact that the vocabulary used during the hackathon 2019 is not ideal. Most of the controversy lies in the term "flow object". This issue seems of high importance because it affects how people perceive the ontology, understand it and decide whether to take it up or not.

 

Below, we summarise the different views/suggestions on that issue, pros, cons and remarks.

 

V1. [Chris] "Flow object" is not consistent with the other terms of the ontology and is hard to related to. The alternative "item" is suggested.

Pro: definition of item is "an individual article or unit, especially one that is part of a list, collection, or set" which fits in the concept.

Pro: it echoes to fields of computer science and mathematics

Remark: activities are also part of a list/collection/set, according to that definition activities are also items of a collection of activities.

 

V2. [Chris] "Flow" is good but has no natural counterpart. An alternative for "flow" could be "exchange".

 

V3. [Agneta] Return to the published LCA ontology (Kuczenski et al. 2016), with the three terms Activity (a thing that happens), Flow (a thing in the world that exists because of some instance of an Activity), and Exchange (an established relationship between an activity instance and a flow instance).

Pro: (to verify) coherence with the vocabulary used by most industrial ecologist / (disagreement) in (1) the authors argue that terminology is not consistent between industrial ecologist, even for basic definitions.

(1) Pauliuk, S.; Majeau-Bettez, G.; Müller, D. B.; Hertwich, E. G. Toward a Practical Ontology for Socioeconomic Metabolism. J. Ind. Ecol. 2016, 20 (6), 1260–1272; DOI 10.1111/jiec.12386.

 

V4. [Rutger] In  ecospold1, only exchanges are defined. In ILCD data formats, both exchange and flows (i.e. flow objects) are defined. Environmental compartments are specified. In SimaPro platform, Flows do not include compartments, as in the Bonsai hackathon version. Exchange is not yet used, but is considered. At PRé, flow-objects are of two types: substances and products, but not perfect.

Con: flow and exchange are both dynamic terms

 

V5. [Matteo] Flow and Flow-object in the post-hackathon ontology are clear and well defined: they relate the Flow and the Object of the Flow (aka the Flow Object). In other words, by keeping the word "flow" in both definitions their link and subtle difference is kept explicit and forces the new-comer to think twice about these definitions.

Pro: all terms can be confusing, the advantage of Flow and Flow-object is that the difficulty is not hidden behind different terms, does not allow for misunderstanding to happen.

 

V6. [Bo] The vocabulary we use needs to distinguish between "the observation of a specific flow (22 kg input of steel) and the abstract flow-object (steel)".

 

V7. [Agneta] "hackathon vocabulary" -> "new vocabulary"

Flow-object => Flow

Flow => Exchange

 

Long List of Terms:

Flow object, entity, object, flux, item, thing, element, substance, component, Noumenon, Flow-item, commodity

Flow, Exchange, Phenomenon

Activity

 

-------

 

 

Bravo / Looking at it from a different angle

 

This being said, I would like to add to the discussion the following points:

-          Matteo has a point: by using the work “flow” twice (in flow and flow-object) we keep the complexity explicit.

 

-          We seem to agree on the structure, but finding the right words for human communication is tricky: do we have to choose? In the end, examples speak by themselves. We will choose a term now, but we can keep the list of alternatives: the list helps clarify things!

 

-          Do we actually agree on the structure? Your discussions forced me to re-open that article by Pauliuk and co: they have the same goal as Bonsai, performed a review of all IE fields, and (wait for it) came up with a totally different wording. I would say that it is one level of abstraction higher than the current Bonsai ontology, and rather stimulating to read. Here some highlights:

o   Many inconsistencies of vocabulary and definitions exist within IE and even within certain fields e.g. LCA

o   Industrial ecologist describe socioeconomic metabolism by a bipartite directed graph (i.e. SUTs) or directed graph

o   Five key definitions:

Definition 1, Sets: A set is a collection of distinct objects

Definition 2, Hierarchical, mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive (H-MECE) object classification: An HMECE object classification is a grouping of a given set of objects into an H-MECE collection of sets.

Definition 3, Stock: A stock is a set of objects of interest.

Definition 4, Process: A process is a set-based description of one or several events of interest, expressed in terms of the objects of interest that are involved in these events during their course.

Definition 5, Flow: A flow is a description of a particular type of event, where objects are preserved and move from one set a to another set b.

o   In sounds very different, but when you read the article in details, all the issues we face are somehow discussed. Including how to handle the properties of objects of interest (see Figure 2)

o   Definition 2 is of interest for the correspondence table group

 

 

mvh

Elias

 

From: main@bonsai.groups.io <main@bonsai.groups.io> On Behalf Of Chris Mutel
Sent: den 5 april 2019 12:46
To: main@bonsai.groups.io
Subject: Re: [bonsai] #ontology Can we come up with a better term than "Flow Object"?

 

I added a table with what I could make of the existing systems, and the possible alternatives we have discussed, here: https://github.com/BONSAMURAIS/BONSAI-ontology-RDF-framework/blob/master/Terminology-discussion.md. Feel free to edit this if you think I have made a mistake.

> To re-iterate: Flow is a verb

Flow can be a verb or a noun, and there is something to be said for having all the core terms be nouns (I think everything else is).

Andreas Ciroth
 

Dear all,

interesting. As part of the discussion you may want to consider also the JSON-LD format names:

http://greendelta.github.io/olca-schema/

In my view, process, flow, exchange is most commonly used (used in “our” JSON-LD format and in ILCD) and it is not too bad (meaning: short, not misleading; it is good to distinguish flows from exchanges). Yes, process, and flow, and also exchange can be a noun and a verb but this is common in English language. So, maybe, in view that there are really lots of things to do in LCA and data availability and LCA ontologies, it is maybe good to stick with this. Or, invent something really different. Point, line, square, e.g., would be different, for flow, exchange, process.

All the best!

Andreas

 

Von: main@bonsai.groups.io <main@bonsai.groups.io> Im Auftrag von Elias Sebastian Azzi
Gesendet: Sonntag, 7. April 2019 23:18
An: main@bonsai.groups.io
Betreff: Re: [bonsai] #ontology Can we come up with a better term than "Flow Object"?

 

Hello,

Reading up that long email thread I wrote a summary of the different views expressed. I also summarise an article that describes another ontology for IE, rather different vocabulary, hoping it will help us see the ontology from a different perspective.

 

 

Alpha / Summary

 

Issue - Human vocabulary for BONSAI's core ontology

While there seems to be an agreement among the participants around the three core classes of the ontology (i.e. on their conceptual meaning), there is not yet a consensus on how these classes should be named in human readable language. There is however an agreement on the fact that the vocabulary used during the hackathon 2019 is not ideal. Most of the controversy lies in the term "flow object". This issue seems of high importance because it affects how people perceive the ontology, understand it and decide whether to take it up or not.

 

Below, we summarise the different views/suggestions on that issue, pros, cons and remarks.

 

V1. [Chris] "Flow object" is not consistent with the other terms of the ontology and is hard to related to. The alternative "item" is suggested.

Pro: definition of item is "an individual article or unit, especially one that is part of a list, collection, or set" which fits in the concept.

Pro: it echoes to fields of computer science and mathematics

Remark: activities are also part of a list/collection/set, according to that definition activities are also items of a collection of activities.

 

V2. [Chris] "Flow" is good but has no natural counterpart. An alternative for "flow" could be "exchange".

 

V3. [Agneta] Return to the published LCA ontology (Kuczenski et al. 2016), with the three terms Activity (a thing that happens), Flow (a thing in the world that exists because of some instance of an Activity), and Exchange (an established relationship between an activity instance and a flow instance).

Pro: (to verify) coherence with the vocabulary used by most industrial ecologist / (disagreement) in (1) the authors argue that terminology is not consistent between industrial ecologist, even for basic definitions.

(1) Pauliuk, S.; Majeau-Bettez, G.; Müller, D. B.; Hertwich, E. G. Toward a Practical Ontology for Socioeconomic Metabolism. J. Ind. Ecol. 2016, 20 (6), 1260–1272; DOI 10.1111/jiec.12386.

 

V4. [Rutger] In  ecospold1, only exchanges are defined. In ILCD data formats, both exchange and flows (i.e. flow objects) are defined. Environmental compartments are specified. In SimaPro platform, Flows do not include compartments, as in the Bonsai hackathon version. Exchange is not yet used, but is considered. At PRé, flow-objects are of two types: substances and products, but not perfect.

Con: flow and exchange are both dynamic terms

 

V5. [Matteo] Flow and Flow-object in the post-hackathon ontology are clear and well defined: they relate the Flow and the Object of the Flow (aka the Flow Object). In other words, by keeping the word "flow" in both definitions their link and subtle difference is kept explicit and forces the new-comer to think twice about these definitions.

Pro: all terms can be confusing, the advantage of Flow and Flow-object is that the difficulty is not hidden behind different terms, does not allow for misunderstanding to happen.

 

V6. [Bo] The vocabulary we use needs to distinguish between "the observation of a specific flow (22 kg input of steel) and the abstract flow-object (steel)".

 

V7. [Agneta] "hackathon vocabulary" -> "new vocabulary"

Flow-object => Flow

Flow => Exchange

 

Long List of Terms:

Flow object, entity, object, flux, item, thing, element, substance, component, Noumenon, Flow-item, commodity

Flow, Exchange, Phenomenon

Activity

 

-------

 

 

Bravo / Looking at it from a different angle

 

This being said, I would like to add to the discussion the following points:

  • Matteo has a point: by using the work “flow” twice (in flow and flow-object) we keep the complexity explicit.

 

  • We seem to agree on the structure, but finding the right words for human communication is tricky: do we have to choose? In the end, examples speak by themselves. We will choose a term now, but we can keep the list of alternatives: the list helps clarify things!

 

  • Do we actually agree on the structure? Your discussions forced me to re-open that article by Pauliuk and co: they have the same goal as Bonsai, performed a review of all IE fields, and (wait for it) came up with a totally different wording. I would say that it is one level of abstraction higher than the current Bonsai ontology, and rather stimulating to read. Here some highlights:
    • Many inconsistencies of vocabulary and definitions exist within IE and even within certain fields e.g. LCA
    • Industrial ecologist describe socioeconomic metabolism by a bipartite directed graph (i.e. SUTs) or directed graph
    • Five key definitions:

Definition 1, Sets: A set is a collection of distinct objects

Definition 2, Hierarchical, mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive (H-MECE) object classification: An HMECE object classification is a grouping of a given set of objects into an H-MECE collection of sets.

Definition 3, Stock: A stock is a set of objects of interest.

Definition 4, Process: A process is a set-based description of one or several events of interest, expressed in terms of the objects of interest that are involved in these events during their course.

Definition 5, Flow: A flow is a description of a particular type of event, where objects are preserved and move from one set a to another set b.

    • In sounds very different, but when you read the article in details, all the issues we face are somehow discussed. Including how to handle the properties of objects of interest (see Figure 2)
    • Definition 2 is of interest for the correspondence table group

 

 

mvh

Elias

 

From: main@bonsai.groups.io <main@bonsai.groups.io> On Behalf Of Chris Mutel
Sent: den 5 april 2019 12:46
To: main@bonsai.groups.io
Subject: Re: [bonsai] #ontology Can we come up with a better term than "Flow Object"?

 

I added a table with what I could make of the existing systems, and the possible alternatives we have discussed, here: https://github.com/BONSAMURAIS/BONSAI-ontology-RDF-framework/blob/master/Terminology-discussion.md. Feel free to edit this if you think I have made a mistake.

> To re-iterate: Flow is a verb

Flow can be a verb or a noun, and there is something to be said for having all the core terms be nouns (I think everything else is).

mmremolona@...
 

Hi all,

My philosophy on naming in ontologies revolves not on the simplicity of the terms used but on how they sound like when you talk about them in normal conversations. Does it sound awkward or normal? On the terms of the ontology:

Flow -> Right now this term is used to refer to the transfer of material or objects from an activity (as an output) to another activity (as an input), thereby connecting these two activities. In my opinion, changing this term to exchange does not affect the overall understanding of the ontology. Either would work. I can have a material flow from one activity to another activity.

Flow-object -> This is defined as an object that is referenced in a flow. Many flows can reference a single instance of a flow-object. I think this is where confusion may set in, as a flow-object can be imagined as an instance of flow. And I agree with Chris that this doesn’t sound right when talking about it. It just doesn’t seem natural to mention a flow object.

I don’t think flow itself works here as the word flow doesn’t equate to any object or material.

For the idea regarding using the term “thing”, everything in any ontology is a subclass of owl:Thing, at least according to the specifications of w3c, so this is redundant and may lead to confusion.
Regarding flow-item, while this seems like a good idea, I generally associate the term item to something that I can itemize or count. Steel, copper, coal, and all the other things used don’t have a problem. However, for CO2, water, steam, etc., this doesn’t seem like a good term to use.

My initial idea to fix this is by making flow an adjective, as in the case of Flowing-Object. However, this doesn’t sound right in language as well. My previous argument for the flow-item would then be reversed; coal steel and those solid objects do not necessarily flow.

My secondary idea involves using the term Exchanged-Object. This is not necessarily related to the first term flow, but both can be adapted so that it sounds more congruent overall. This also sounds better as the question that arises from it sounds better in English (e.g. What’s the exchanged-object between the two activities you mentioned? In this flow, what’s the exchanged-object?)

TLDR:
Flow -> “Exchange” or retain “Flow”
Flow-object -> “Exchanged-Object”

 

Best,

 

Miguel Remolona

 

After a community vote on nomenclature, we are essentially tied between the following options: "flow object", "item", "flow item." This vote was announced as informative and non-binding, so it is up to the ontology working group to decide what to propose in BEP 5, and this discussion should be summarized and referenced in the final BEP. For the time being, it makes sense to continue using "flow object."

Here are the vote results (options are listed here):

Final average rank (where 1 is the best):
Flow object: 2.33
Flow item: 2.88
Item: 2.88

In instant run-off voting, the final tally is 5 first-place votes for "flow object", and 4 first-place votes for "item".

(While these results may look like they reveal a clear preference, they are quite sensitive - any single person changing their vote could flip this preference, and some people might be tempted to do so when the initial results are presented. Therefore I think the only fair interpretation under uncertainty is to regard these as tied.)

loekke@...
 

I agree with Matteo in this case:
"... the current definition is extremely clear, as it related the Flow and the Object of the Flow (aka Flow Object). [...] all other proposal are much more confusing (Flow and Exchange are two dynamic terms)"

 
/Søren