FROLIO Formalizable Relationship-Oriented Language-Insensitive Ontology

Roger M Tagg 2007-2011-2023

FROLIO Home Page


This is the home page of FROLIO, a design for an Ontology that represents different but complementary way of thinking about the world, emphasizing underlying meaning rather than words.

FROLIO was started in 2007, partly as a retirement project. It derives, in part, from my research work in the Information Systems Laboratory (InSyL) at the University of South Australia in Adelaide, Australia from which I retired at the end of 2009. I kept it up for a few years after retiring. As it still seems relevant  to my new Re-think website, I have salvaged some of my old web pages and included them here.

Part of InSyL's programme was to research the realities of doing cooperative work in groups, particularly where creative work is a significant part. The group's approach was strongly based on observation of group activities, both in meetings and between meetings. To make sense of the observations, we need to recognize what is actually happening, based on the words and pictures we can record. In doing this, we do not start from a blank sheet - we can assume that there is a consensus of a common structure of what words and phrases - and even body language - mean. That consensus cannot be totally fixed, but evolves from the bottom up.

In information research worldwide, ontologies are in fashion, as they form part of the infrastructure for Artificial Intelligence (AI). Much of today's AI depends on correlating information that can be found on the internet. If we want to integrate that information, it would be valuable to have better means of finding and correlating web pages according to their underlying meaning, rather than just the appearance of text strings (as happens in Google and other search engines).

However most ontology research is done by computer specialists and people of a mathematical disposition. In spite of some recent efforts, philosophical and social aspects do not always get adequate attention.

As well as this, most ontologies appear to concentrate on the objects and concepts themselves; they do not often include relationships between objects or concepts - and even if they do, they are (by and large) large limited to relationships of specialization and composition. It seems to the author that a much larger part of "reality" (if such a thing exists!) is about other types of relationships, for example motivation, will, comparison, usefulness etc. What is offered in FROLIO is not intended to replace the work that is being done elsewhere, but to provide a "push" in a different direction that may help to improve the effectiveness of information-related research.

The F in FROLIO stands for Formalizable. The original idea was that FROLIO should be part of a computer system supporting 'information work' by individuals and groups. Therefore it should be made in terms that computer programmes can handle. I did not get very far at all with this. The furthest I got was when I had a postgrad student develop an app to enable users to maintain their ontology, which was very simple.

There is a difference between my ideas and the ontologies used in modern AI, which tend to be derived from the totality whatever is on the internet. My ontology was geared to an individual or group, and would be derived from whatever data was particularly meaningful or important to them. This would come from observation of the work they did, the web pages the accessed, the names of people they communicated with and the subject matter of the work.

The RO in FROLIO stands for Relationship Oriented. I have explained my reasons for this approach in my Why Relationship Oriented page. The main reason is that the relationships carry most of the 'meaning' in any description of the world, rather than the just names of things and concepts themselves.

Following up this point about meaning, the LI in FROLIO stands for Language Insensitive. I suppose my own experience in working in EU countries, in Iran and in Arabic speaking countries has made me realise that in our work and social life we are usually talking about the same things, whatever people's primary language. Sure, different languages sometimes lead to different ways of classifying things in the world; we can't hope to be totally language independent. But my experience is that there is mostly reasonable consensus about what we experience, even if we give that experience different names. For more on this, see my Why Language Insensitive page.

Although it was primarily an academic project, I had also hoped that FROLIO might also offer the more general public a framework through which we can better detect bullshit, spin, mumbo-jumbo and other conspiracies to "bend reality to fit the agenda of power and money seeking hustlers"!

Help!! This is a tad too wordy for my liking (click this link for a simpler explanation)


Top Level building blocks Roles in Relationships Major Relationship types Objects Attributes Activities
Context Hierarchies Structure Abstract Concepts Ideas Scenarios

FROLIO home page (this page) Back to Re-think home Back to website

Some of these links may be under construction or re-construction.

This version updated on 20th July 2023