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Re: Creating JSON from RDF

From: Dan Brickley <danbri@danbri.org>
Date: Mon, 14 Dec 2009 11:17:37 +0100
Message-ID: <eb19f3360912140217w109daf1ah3c9320fa3363d22c@mail.gmail.com>
To: Jeni Tennison <jeni@jenitennison.com>
Cc: Richard Light <richard@light.demon.co.uk>, Linked Data community <public-lod@w3.org>, John Sheridan <John.Sheridan@nationalarchives.gsi.gov.uk>
On Mon, Dec 14, 2009 at 10:37 AM, Jeni Tennison <jeni@jenitennison.com> wrote:
> Richard,
>
> My opinion, based on the reactions that I've seen from enthusiastic,
> hard-working developers who just want to get things done, is that we (the
> data.gov.uk project in particular, linked data in general) are not providing
> them what they need.
>
> We can sit around and wait for other people to provide the simple,
> light-weight interfaces that those developers demand, or we can do it
> ourselves. I can predict with near certainty that if we do not do it
> ourselves, these developers will not use the linked data that we produce:
> they will download the original source data which is also being made
> available to them, and use that.
>
> We, here, on this list, understand the potential power of using linked data.
> The developers who want to use the data don't. (And the publishers producing
> the data don't.) We simply can't say "but they can just build tools", "they
> can just use SPARQL". They are not going to build bridges to us. We have to
> build bridges to them.
>
> My opinion.

Opinion, sure. But absolutely correct, also!

(Excuse me if a small rant is triggered by all this...)

Why, twelve years, two months and twelve days after
http://www.w3.org/TR/WD-rdf-syntax-971002/ was first published, do we
not have well packaged, maintained and fully compliant RDF parsers
available in every major programming language?  And that is for just
the smallest critical piece of software needed to do anything useful.


Short answer: because people from these mailing lists didn't sit down
and do the work. We waited for someone else to do it. Some of us did
bits of it, but ... taken as a whole, there are still plenty of basic
pieces unfinished, in various languages.

Millions upon millions of euros and dollars have been spent on
Semantic this and Semantic that, and now Linked this and Linked that;
countless conferences, workshops and seminars, PDFs, PPTs and so on;
but still such basic software components haven't been finished,
polished, tested and distributed.

I'm not speaking ill of anyone in particular here. Countless folk have
worked hard and tirelessly to progress the state of the art, get tools
matured and deployed. But there is plenty plenty more to do. I do fear
that the structure of both academic and research (eg. EU) funding
doesn't favour the kind of work and workplan we need. In the
SWAD-Europe EU project we were very unusual to have explicit funding
and plans that allowed - for example - Dave Beckett to work not only
on the RDF Core standards, but on their opensource implementation in
C; or Jan Grant and Dave to work on the RDF Test Cases, or Alistair
Miles to take SKOS from a rough idea to something that's shaking up
the whole library world. I wish that kind of funding was easy to come
by, but it's not. A lot of the work we need to get done around here to
speed up progress is pretty boring stuff. It's not cutting edge
research, nor the core of a world-changing startup, nor a good topic
for a phd.

With every passing year the RDF tools do get a bit better, but also
the old ones code rot a bit, or new things come along that need
supporting (GRDDL, RDFa etc.). What can be done in the SemWeb and
Linked Data scene so that it becomes a bigger part of people's real
dayjobs to improve our core tooling? Are the resources already out
there but poorly coordinated? Would some lightweight collective
project management help? Are there things (eg. finalising a ruby
parser toolkit) that are weekend-sized jobs, month sized jobs; do they
look more like msc student summer projects or EU STREP / IP projects
in scale? Could we do more by simply transliterating code between
languages? ie. if something exists in Python it can be converted to
Ruby or vice-versa...? Are funded grants available  (eg. JISC in UK?)
that would help polish, package, test and integrate basic entry-level
RDF / linked data software tools?

Back on the original thread, I am talking here so far only about core
RDF tools, eg. having basic RDF -to- triples facility available
reliably in some language of choice. As Jeni emphasises, there are
lots of other pieces of bridging technology needed (eg. into modern
JSON idioms). But when we are hoping to convert folk to use pure
generic RDF tools, we better make sure they're in good shape. Some
are, some aren't, and that lumpy experience can easily turn people
away...

cheers,

Dan
Received on Monday, 14 December 2009 10:18:18 GMT

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