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The Ontology of Documents

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Presentation on theme: "The Ontology of Documents"— Presentation transcript:

1 The Ontology of Documents
Barry Smith

2 PART ONE: Beyond Information Objects PART TWO: What Documents Wreak
PART THREE: What you can Wreak with Documents PART FOUR: Standardized Documents

3 Beyond information objects
PART ONE Beyond information objects

4 Much valuable work on ‘documents’ in the context of XML, etc
Much valuable work on ‘documents’ in the context of XML, etc., standardization e.g. Bob Glushko: “A document  is a purposeful and self-contained collection of information.” focuses on information content, not on the physical container sees business collaborations – e.g. between on-line customer credit card authorization service when the latter verifies and charges the customer’s account – as ‘Internet information exchanges’ but there is more than information here

5 (Much bad stuff too) HL7 Clinical Document Architecture
is an XML-based document markup standard that specifies the structure and semantics of clinical documents for the purpose of information exchange all CDA documents derive their meaning from the HL7 Reference Information Model (RIM)

6 HL7-RIM Document: Definition: Specialization of Act to add the characteristics unique to document management services. (3.7.1) Act: Definition: An Act is an action of interest that has happened, can happen, is happening, is intended to happen, or is requested/demanded to happen. (1.5.1) Definition: A record of something that is being done, has been done, can be done, or is intended or requested to be done. (3.1.1)

7 HL7-RIM (Ballot September 2004)
Logical nonsense Act = record of an Act (1.5.1) Act = intentional action (3.1.1) Ontological nonsense “there is no distinction between an activity and its documentation” (3.1.1) Sheer nonsense document is a subclass (?!) of structured document (2.2.3) (Compare: number is a special type of prime number)

8 HL7-RIM draws no clear distinctions between
documents (as entities which endure, can be stored, etc.) those acts of recording information which create documents acts of ordering or requesting or signing documents the information recorded in documents the activities described in documents etc.

9 We are interested here in the class of (roughly: time-sensitive) documents
of importance e.g. in homeland security (identification documents) in commerce in law in healthcare Thus: not novels ...

10 Some examples Made of paper Not made of paper novel textbook newspaper
advertising flier recipe map business card license degree certificate deed contract will receipt statement of accounts medical consent form clay tablet recording outcome of litigation e-document electronic health record movie clapper credit card receipt stock market ticker car license plate advertising hoarding gravestone hallmarked silver plate film credits exterior signage on buildings

11 OED 1., 2. Teaching, lesson learned (cf. doctor, docile, docent)
3. That which serves to show, point out, or prove something; evidence, proof. 4. Something written, inscribed, etc., which furnishes evidence or information upon any subject, as a manuscript, title-deed, tomb-stone, coin, picture, etc.

12 What is missing from existing document ontologies:
the social and institutional (deontic, quasi-legal) powers of documents the social interactions in which documents play an essential role (how documents bind people together) the sorts of things which we can do with documents the different types of institutional systems to which documents belong the provenance of documents (on what distinguishes original, authentic documents from copies, forgeries ...)

13 What is missing from existing document ontologies:
document as stand-alone entity vs. document with all its different types of proximate and remote attachments document template vs. filled-in document document vs. the piece of paper (or other physical carrier) upon which a document is written/printed, etc. Focusing on information alone will not suffice; it is a hard problem to simulate some of these features in the case of documents which exist only in a digital medium

14 Allographic vs. Autographic
A work of art is “autographic if and only if the distinction between the original and the copy has meaning; or rather, if even its most exact reproduction does not have the status of authenticity.”  (Nelson Goodman, Languages of Art) painting is autographic music is allographic It follows that a musical forgery is ontologically impossible (R. Pouivet, “The ontology of forgery”) How simulate the autographic in a digital medium? Not via any pure information object, but only via provenance (history).

15 Allographic = identity is notational vs
Allographic = identity is notational vs. Autographic = identity is historical A signature is autographic A fingerprint left at the scene of the crime is autographic A fingerprint taken for identification purposes is allographic

16 PART TWO What documents wreak

17 Two types of ontology natural-science ontology (bio-ontologies)
administrative ontology (e-commerce ontologies) Healthcare ontologies span the two

18 Documents belong to the domain of administrative entities
entities such as organizations, rules, prices, debts, standardized transactions ..., which we ourselves create But what does ‘create’ mean ?

19 Austin/Searle Speech Act Theory
We tell people how things are (assertives) We try to get them to do things (directives) We commit ourselves to doing things (commissives) We express our feelings and attitudes (expressives) We bring about changes in the world through utterances (declarations) (“I name this ship ...”) Searle 1996, p. 9.

20 The Searle thesis claims and obligations and deontic powers* are brought into existence by the performance of speech acts (acts of promising, marrying, accusing ... ) The Construction of Social Reality (1989) * rights, relations of authority, debts, property-relations, permissions, ...

21 HL7-RIM claims to be based on speech act theory, but ignores completely the deontic features of speech acts

22 appointings, marryings, promisings ...
change the world but only if certain background conditions are satisfied: valid formulation legitimate authority acceptance by addressees We perform a speech act ... the world changes, instantaneously

23 A new entity comes into being
– a claim, obligation, right, power, name, office – which survives for an extended period of time What is the physical basis for this extended existence? In small societies: the memories of those involved In large societies: documents Writing creates and sustains permanent, re-usable meaning and permanent re-usable deontic powers

24 Differences between document acts and speech acts
you don’t need to understand a document in order to perform a properly constituted document act paper documents are continuants, which means that they can change over time (be filled in, copied, stamped, etc.) they can also create traceable liability (form an audit trial) they can be attached together, creating new document-complexes whose structure mirrors relations (e.g. of debtor to creditor) among humans

25 Differences between document acts and speech acts
document acts typically involve components deriving from several of Searle’s five types dual role of a delivery note: to guide those involved in delivering an object to allow the recipient to attest to its receipt and also components of other types –dual role of your signature in your passport: to attest to the truth of a certain assertion to provide a sample pattern for comparison

26 Differences between document acts and speech acts
speech acts are normally self-validating (they wear their provenance on their face) documents need technological devices (official stamps, special watermarks, signatures, countersignatures, seals, ...)


28 Countersignatures

29 The Searle thesis: claims and obligations and deontic powers are brought into existence by the performance of speech acts

30 Hernando de Soto, The Mystery of Capital,
The de Soto thesis: documents and document systems are mechanisms for creating the institutional orders of modern societies Hernando de Soto, The Mystery of Capital, New York: Basic Books, 2000

31 The creative powers of documents
stock and share certificates create capital examination documents create PhDs title deed/cadastral map creates real estate parcels marriage licenses create bonds of matrimony bankruptcy certificates create bankrupts statutes of incorporation create companies title deeds create property rights and property owners

32 The creative powers of documents
insurance certificates create insurance coverage price tag/pricelist (creates commitments) patent (creates rights) license/degree certificate (creates rights) statement of accounts (creates obligations) membership card (creates rights) divorce decree (creates rights and obligations)

33 Identity documents create identity
and thereby create the possibility of identity theft what is the ontology of identity? what is the epistemology of identity (the technologies of identification)?

34 The creative power of documents
documents create authorities (physicians’ license creates physician) authorities create documents (physician creates sick note) Documents issued by an authority within the framework of a valid legal institution vs. issued by an authority extralegally on its own behalf (cf. US Declaration of Independence)

35 Organizational chart a map of the organization and of its flows of authority (a system of positional roles in the document represents [creates?] the system of positional roles which is the organization)

36 Homework: How classify these kinds of documents
partnership agreement/ statute of incorporation proxy form/representation agreement ballot form residence permit census report stock certificate insurance claim form insurance policy visa/immigration document bankruptcy certificate insurance card/health insurance card health certificate consent form (for medical procedure) medical record criminal record pension book rent book accident report/theft report/police report/charge architects plan (vs. template for an architects plan)

37 What kinds of documents have creative power in social reality?
not novels – which exist in many identical copies (tokens of the same type) not watercolors in a gallery – which do not contain time-sensitive information

38 Non-Creative novel textbook newspaper recipe map business card
advertizing flier timetable guarantee tax form (filled in) minutes of a meeting ALLOGRAPHIC license birth certificate degree certificate deed contract will receipt banknote painting statue building AUTOGRAPHIC

39 What you can wreak with documents
PART THREE What you can wreak with documents

40 What you can do with a document [DOCUMENT ACTS]
Sign it Stamp it Witness it Fill it in Revise it Nullify it Realize (interrupt, abort ...) actions mandated by it Deliver it (de facto, de jure) Declare it active/inactive Display it (price list) Register it Archive it

41 Addressees (documents point also forward in time)
Each kind of document has an associated kind of public the creators of the document-template (legislators, drafters ...) the guardians of the document (solicitors, notaries ...) the fillers-in of the document (this is the central target audience) the recipients of the document (registrars, ...) the beneficiaries of the document (wills)

42 Registration storing of documents in a way which makes them
permanently accessible (checkable, verifiable) amendable (e.g. where property is used as collateral for loans) combinable (attachment): social relations are created via cross-referenced and cross-attached documents more easily authenticated

43 Redundancy Safety procedures for mission-critical technology involve multiple layers of redundancy to ensure against catastrophe. a photograph alone is not sufficient to establish your identity: it must appear in the right place in the right sort of document that has been marked in the right sort of way by signatures, counter-signatures, stamps, ID numbers these elements serve to anchor the document to the reality beyond and to the history of its production

44 anchoring documents to reality

45 Anchoring fingerprint official stamp photograph
bar code, cow brand-mark car license plate allow cross-referencing to documents knowledge by acquaintance knowledge by description knowledge by comparison I use my passport to prove my identity You use my passport to check my identity

46 The ontology of signatures
documents needing signatures signed/not signed/incorrectly signed/ fraudulently signed/signed and stamped signed by proxy with a single/with a plurality of signatories

47 The ontology of names a baptism ceremony creates a new sort of cultural object called a name names, too, belong to the domain of administrative (= created) entities this is an abstract yet time-bound object, like a nation or a club it is an object with parts (your first name and your last name are parts of your name, in something like the way in which the first movement and the last movement are parts of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony)

48 How do documents relate to their linguistically expressed content?
What extra features do they have (signing, counter-signing, registering, validating ...) which give them their deontic force? And how do we recreate these features in the realm of e-documents? How do we anchor e-documents to objects and processes in physical reality (e.g. to human beings)?

49 How do documents relate to the underlying physical medium
A credit card receipt is autographic A credit card is allographic But the credit card as physical carrier is dispensable: What is important are the credit card numbers

50 The ontology of (credit card) numbers
These numbers are not mathematical (not informational) entities – they are ‘thick’ (historical) numbers, special sorts of cultural artefacts they are information objects with provenance: abstract keys fitting into a globally distributed lock

51 Standardized Documents
PART FOUR Standardized Documents

52 Standardized documents
Template, followed by act of filling in First step towards standardized products is a plan, a description, a template, which can be filled in (brand identity)) documents filled in completely/partially correctly/incorrectly validly/invalidly

53 from the Shiprock Navajo fair New Mexico, September 30-October 1, 2005

54 Standardized documents
allow networking across time (documents can accumulate through attachment) across space (different groups can orientate themselves around the same document forms) can encapsulate the memory and experience of an entire profession

55 Good documents vs. bad documents
Good documents must be well-designed they must map the corresponding reality in a perspicuous way – cf. maps as document they must be easy to fill in by members of its central target audience (need for process of education?) they must not create new problems (should bow off the stage once they have been properly filled in and never be seen again except in those rare cases where problems arise)

56 standardized documents
improve the flow of communications allow standardized transactions allow assets to be described using standard categories, so as to enable comparisons allow the transition from ad hoc narratives (as in old title deeds) to structured representations of reality communication is hereby advanced because signals are abbreviated supports the creation of more effective registries

57 standardized documents embody social memory
one can more easily check that one has filled in the boxes correctly from a syntactical point of view truthfully by the right person with the right authority some entries are made self-validating through the presence of official seals or stamps some entries refer to other forms (copies of which may be required to be attached to this form) the form itself can guarantee that it occupies its proper place in a network of forms facilitates checking and enforceability, and thus contributes to trust and to simplification of transactions and (cf. de Soto) makes us all better people

58 END

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