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Re: SKOS Core Guide new introduction

From: Mark van Assem <mark@cs.vu.nl>
Date: Wed, 26 Jan 2005 15:43:33 +0100
Message-ID: <41F7AC95.5090701@cs.vu.nl>
To: "Miles, AJ (Alistair)" <A.J.Miles@rl.ac.uk>
CC: public-esw-thes@w3.org

Hi Alistair,

Good job! I think it's pretty clear while still remaining concise. The 
graph also clarifies a lot (maybe add a small legenda?). The statement 
below the graph for which people this guide may be of interest motivates 
the readers who are still doubting whether to read on.


Miles, AJ (Alistair) wrote:

> Hi all,
> In response to basic issues 1 & 2 from Tom (see below) I've reworked the
> introductory section of the SKOS Core Guide:
> http://www.w3.org/2004/02/skos/core/guide/2005-01-25.html
> What do you think?
> Haven't tried a new abstract as yet.
> Cheers,
> Al.
>>-----Original Message-----
>>From: public-esw-thes-request@w3.org
>>[mailto:public-esw-thes-request@w3.org]On Behalf Of Thomas Baker
>>Sent: 10 January 2005 13:32
>>To: SWAD Europe Thesaurus
>>Subject: Review of SKOS documents - 1/2
>>Dear all,
>>As a member of the Semantic Web Best Practices working group
>>I was asked to review several SKOS documents, and Alistair
>>suggested I re-post my comments for discussion here as well.
>>I only recently joined this list and do not know if some of
>>the questions I raise haven't already been discussed, perhaps
>>even at length.  Also, as I make clear in my comments, I tend
>>to read things through Dublin Core glasses.
>>I divided my comments into two parts: basic issues (attached
>>below) and points of stylistic detail (the next message).
>>Date: Thu, 23 Dec 2004 10:46:03 +0100
>>From: Thomas Baker <thomas.baker@bi.fhg.de>
>>To: "Miles, AJ (Alistair)" <A.J.Miles@rl.ac.uk>
>>Cc: "'public-swbp-wg@w3.org'" <public-swbp-wg@w3.org>
>>Subject: Re: [ALL] PORT documents for internal review - 1/2
>>Sender: public-swbp-wg-request@w3.org
>>>The following documents are submitted to the working group 
>>for internal
>>>(A) SKOS Core Vocabulary Specification (2004-12-17 version)
>>>(B) SKOS Core Guide (2004-11-25 version)
>>>(C) Quick Guide to Publishing a Thesaurus on the Semantic 
>>Web (2004-11-17
>>>The nominated reviewers for these documents are:
>>>Mark van Assem (on behalf of Guus Schreiber)
>>>Tom Baker
>>>Reviews should be posted to this list by 10 January 2005.
>>My review focuses on Document B -- the 40-page overview of SKOS
>>Core -- though my comments have implications for the other two.
>>Overall, this is excellent, careful work.  I want to say
>>this up-front because, after a close reading of the document,
>>I end up raising quite a few points of detail.
>>My second posting will raise points of wording and
>>presentation.  This posting covers three more fundamental
>>1. Reaching the intended audience
>>   As discussed in the telecon of 16 December [1]:
>>   >   The guide is human-readable intro - how to use it:
>>   >   features of vocabulary, with examples.  In the last
>>   >   telecon, we agreed to make it accessible to non-RDF
>>   >   people, but proved to be nearly impossible to write -
>>   >   would have been extremely long.  Rather, we restrict
>>   >   the scope to people who basically understand RDF,
>>   >   then if we want to present porting issues, we will
>>   >   do that in a separate doc which explains basic
>>   >   concepts (not yet written).  From there, we can
>>   >   look at developing add'nl method notes.
>>   A separate document on "basic concepts" will be a useful
>>   thing, but in the meantime a bit more introduction is
>>   perhaps needed in the SKOS Core Guide itself.
>>   The Guide does assume that the reader is RDF-literate.
>>   However, it presents that RDF in the form of RDF/XML
>>   serialization syntax.  While the Introduction emphasizes
>>   that SKOS Core is not "an XML syntax for concept schemes",
>>   this is done to make the point that N3/Turtle or N-Triple
>>   could be used just as well -- and not to reinforce the
>>   more basic point that "what is fundamental to RDF is the
>>   graph model" [RDF-PRIMER].
>>   One or two simple node-arc diagrams right at the beginning
>>   of the draft might be a simple and readable way to present
>>   the "basic concepts" behind SKOS.
>>   For example, the example concept from the Quick Guide
>>   ("Economic cooperation") illustrates in itself some basic
>>   features of SKOS Core: skos:Concepts, related to other
>>   broader or narrower skos:Concepts, with preferred versus
>>   alternate labels.  Presenting this one example as a simple
>>   diagram with labeled arcs and nodes could be a good way
>>   to present the basic idea.
>>   The introductory message, then, could convey something
>>   like the following message:
>>      Thesauri represent semantic relations among concepts
>>      [insert "Economic cooperation" example here, along with
>>      citations for BS8723, ISO 2788, and other thesaurus
>>      standards].
>>      Here is how the example looks as an RDF graph using the
>>      SKOS Core vocabulary [inser a node-and-arc diagram here].
>>      If your vocabulary has a similar structure, you will
>>      be interested in reading this Guide because it will
>>      tell you how you can express your vocabulary in, or
>>      translate your vocabulary into, an RDF model using the
>>      SKOS Core vocabulary.  Using the RDF model will allow
>>      your vocabulary to be linked to or merged with other
>>      data structures by RDF applications.
>>2. What SKOS Core "is"
>>   The Abstract begins:
>>        "SKOS Core is a supporting RDF Vocabulary..."
>>   To me, this choice of wording raises several questions
>>   that are not really answered in the rest of the text.
>>   Someone familiar with RDF -- the target audience of
>>   the draft -- might correctly take an "RDF Vocabulary"
>>   to be something like "a vocabulary of terms usable as
>>   Properties and Classes in the RDF model".  In the absence
>>   of a definition, however, the reader could confuse it with
>>   "The RDF Vocabulary" ("a set of URI references in the rdf:
>>   namespace" [2]).  Some readers, concluding that SKOS Core is
>>   only relevant to people who are already "using RDF", might
>>   stop reading right here.  A definition of "RDF vocabulary"
>>   up-front, with a pointer to [3], could address this.
>>   But is the SKOS Core Guide really primarily about a
>>   vocabulary?  Or is it really about a particular data
>>   model based, in turn, on the RDF model?  Reducing SKOS
>>   Core to the vocabulary alone seems a bit like reducing
>>   RDF to "The RDF Vocabulary".  Saying that SKOS Core is a
>>   "supporting" vocabulary makes one ask: supporting what?
>>   Rather, describing SKOS Core as a "model" for expressing
>>   knowledge organization structures such as thesauri could
>>   perhaps correct this narrow perspective, shifting the
>>   reader's attention to the model of entities being described
>>   ("skos:Concepts" and relationships between them) and how
>>   the vocabulary "supports" that model.
>>3. Ownership and maintenance of SKOS
>>   In the Vocabulary Management task force, we are trying to
>>   formulate (and illustrate) a best-practice guideline to
>>   the effect that vocabulary maintainers should "articulate
>>   and publish maintenance policies for the Terms and their
>>   URI references".  It is not clear from the documents (in
>>   particular the SKOS Core Vocabulary Specification) who
>>   is ultimately taking responsibility for the maintenance
>>   of the SKOS vocabulary.  Is W3C implicitly assuming that
>>   responsibility?  I'm wondering to what extent the SWBPD
>>   working group needs to address these questions as a basis
>>   for any recommendations it may want to issue.
>>   As a related issue, the Vocabulary Spec is generated from
>>   the RDF representation, implying that the RDF representation
>>   is canonical and the Web document is derived.  Yet it is
>>   the Web document that we are reviewing, presumably to
>>   assign the Web document some sort of status in the W3C
>>   context.  Which representation is primarily the object of
>>   maintenance?  This relationship between the Web document
>>   and the underlying RDF representation should perhaps be
>>   addressed in the Introduction.
> http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-swbp-wg/2004Dec/0099.html:
> [2] http://www.w3.org/TR/rdf-mt/
> [3] http://www.w3.org/TR/rdf-schema/

  Mark F.J. van Assem - Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
        mark@cs.vu.nl - http://www.cs.vu.nl/~mark
Received on Wednesday, 26 January 2005 14:43:38 UTC

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