While different definitions for ontology exist, it can be said that Ontologies are conceptual and semantic frameworks representing models of the world, as well as explicit and complete knowledge representations of a model of reality, expressed using different formalisms and artifacts. When trying to understand what makes up an ontology, different authors have different views. Mike Uschold et al. say that an ontology may take a variety of forms, but it will necessarily include a vocabulary of terms and some specification of their meaning, such as definitions and an indication of how concepts are interrelated, which collectively impose a structure on the domain and constrain the possible interpretations of terms. Particularly in Web based environments, an ontology delimits the boundary of the system’s knowledge and functional domain, and serves as conceptual and semantic reference for software development. In practical terms, entities and attributes, classes, objects and properties, as well as data models, data schemas, metadata and vocabularies and their extensions, when ‘normalized’ all contain information that models a view of the world, for the purpose of a given system, and constitute the representation of such domain, in short, an ontology.
The expression ‘open ontology’ is not new, and it is used generically to reference ontologies which are in the public domain, and sometimes to ontologies that have been developed using collaborative processes.
In our work, we have come across the need to define and qualify, at least to some extent the degree of ontology ‘openness':
Phi Beta Iota: This is relevant to the eventual creation of the World Brain and Global Game. Content, not just software, is stovepiped to the point of insanity right now. While early models do exist, such as the original analog World Game model created by Buckminster Fuller and Medard Gabel, and the more recent Strategic Analytic Model created by the Earth Intelligence Network, at this time there is no serious commitment anywhere to going “all in” across the opens needed to create the World Brain and Global Game — OpenBTS, Open Cloud, Open Data, Open Hardware, Open Software, Open Standards, to name a few.