Do Mountains Exist

In Mark and Smith’s article ‘Do Mountains Exist’ the authors explore the idea of ontologies using the example of how we understand, recognize, and define the geographic concept of a Mountain.  Mountains can be described using common-sense theories and language while also described using topography, hydrology, and geomorphology.  The complexity of language is increased when one considers how culture and context affect how we know and understand various geographic contexts.

The implications for functional ontologies within GIScience are important and far reaching.  One of the most important implications is that with functional ontologies of geographic concepts comes the ability for data to be shared more effectively.  Because different organizations often use their own definitions, data collection techniques, and storage methods having ontologies that are able to sort and define various datasets can be extremely useful for the sharing of information.

Although I really enjoy this article, one aspect of ontologies I would have liked to learn more about from these authors is how ontologies are formally constructed.  This article was useful in understanding why ontologies are necessary though it would have been beneficial to provide information regarding what ontologies actually are in a tangible sense.


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