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Re: .htaccess a major bottleneck to Semantic Web adoption / Was: Re: RDFa vs RDF/XML and content negotiation

From: Pat Hayes <phayes@ihmc.us>
Date: Thu, 25 Jun 2009 12:29:11 -0500
Cc: Danny Ayers <danny.ayers@gmail.com>, bill.roberts@planet.nl, public-lod@w3.org, semantic-web at W3C <semantic-web@w3c.org>
Message-Id: <3DB4033D-D05F-4A99-9218-7C2E78D8032A@ihmc.us>
To: martin.hepp@ebusiness-unibw.org

On Jun 25, 2009, at 11:44 AM, Martin Hepp (UniBW) wrote:

> Hi all:
>
> After about two months of helping people generate RDF/XML metadata  
> for their businesses using the GoodRelations annotator [1],
> I have quite some evidence that the current best practices of  
> using .htaccess are a MAJOR bottleneck for the adoption of Semantic  
> Web technology.

I agree, and raised this issue with the W3C TAG some time ago. It was  
apparently not taken seriously. The general consensus seemed to be  
that any normal adult should be competent to manipulate an Apache  
server. My own company, however, refuses to allow its employees to  
have access to .htaccess files, and I am therefore quite unable to  
conform to the current best practice from my own work situation. I  
believe that this situation is not uncommon.

Pat Hayes

>
> Just some data:
> - We have several hundred entries in the annotator log - most people  
> spend 10 or more minutes to create a reasonable description of  
> themselves.
> - Even though they all operate some sort of Web sites, less than 30  
> % of them manage to upload/publish a single *.rdf file in their root  
> directory.
> - Of those 30%, only a fraction manage to set up content negotiation  
> properly, even though we provide a step-by-step recipe.
>
> The effects are
> - URIs that are not dereferencable,
> - incorrect media types and
> and other problems.
>
> When investigating the causes and trying to help people, we  
> encountered a variety of configurations and causes that we did not  
> expect. It turned out that helping people just managing this tiny  
> step of publishing  Semantic Web data would turn into a full-time  
> job for 1 - 2 administrators.
>
> Typical causes of problems are
> - Lack of privileges for .htaccess (many cheap hosting packages give  
> limited or no access to .htaccess)
> - Users without Unix background had trouble name a file so that it  
> begins with a dot
> - Microsoft IIS require completely different recipes
> - Many users have access just at a CMS level
>
> Bottomline:
> - For researchers in the field, it is a doable task to set up an  
> Apache server so that it serves RDF content according to current  
> best practices.
> - For most people out there in reality, this is regularly a  
> prohibitively difficult task, both because of a lack of skills and a  
> variety in the technical environments that turns into an engineering  
> challenge what is easy on the textbook-level.
>
> As a consequence, we will modify our tool so that it generates  
> "dummy" RDFa code with span/div that *just* represents the meta-data  
> without interfering with the presentation layer.
> That can then be inserted as code snippets via copy-and-paste to any  
> XHTML document.
>
> Any opinions?
>
> Best
> Martin
>
> [1]  http://www.ebusiness-unibw.org/tools/goodrelations-annotator/
>
> Danny Ayers wrote:
>> Thank you for the excellent questions, Bill.
>>
>> Right now IMHO the best bet is probably just to pick whichever format
>> you are most comfortable with (yup "it depends") and use that as the
>> single source, transforming perhaps with scripts to generate the
>> alternate representations for conneg.
>>
>> As far as I'm aware we don't yet have an easy templating engine for
>> RDFa, so I suspect having that as the source is probably a good  
>> choice
>> for typical Web applications.
>>
>> As mentioned already GRDDL is available for transforming on the fly,
>> though I'm not sure of the level of client engine support at present.
>> Ditto providing a SPARQL endpoint is another way of maximising the
>> surface area of the data.
>>
>> But the key step has clearly been taken, that decision to publish  
>> data
>> directly without needing the human element to interpret it.
>>
>> I claim *win* for the Semantic Web, even if it'll still be a few  
>> years
>> before we see applications exploiting it in a way that provides real
>> benefit for the end user.
>>
>> my 2 cents.
>>
>> Cheers,
>> Danny.
>>
>>
>>
>
> -- 
> --------------------------------------------------------------
> martin hepp
> e-business & web science research group
> universitaet der bundeswehr muenchen
>
> e-mail:  mhepp@computer.org
> phone:   +49-(0)89-6004-4217
> fax:     +49-(0)89-6004-4620
> www:     http://www.unibw.de/ebusiness/ (group)
>        http://www.heppnetz.de/ (personal)
> skype:   mfhepp twitter: mfhepp
>
> Check out the GoodRelations vocabulary for E-Commerce on the Web of  
> Data!
> = 
> = 
> ======================================================================
>
> Webcast:
> http://www.heppnetz.de/projects/goodrelations/webcast/
>
> Talk at the Semantic Technology Conference 2009: "Semantic Web-based  
> E-Commerce: The GoodRelations Ontology"
> http://tinyurl.com/semtech-hepp
>
> Tool for registering your business:
> http://www.ebusiness-unibw.org/tools/goodrelations-annotator/
>
> Overview article on Semantic Universe:
> http://tinyurl.com/goodrelations-universe
>
> Project page and resources for developers:
> http://purl.org/goodrelations/
>
> Tutorial materials:
> Tutorial at ESWC 2009: The Web of Data for E-Commerce in One Day: A  
> Hands-on Introduction to the GoodRelations Ontology, RDFa, and  
> Yahoo! SearchMonkey
>
> http://www.ebusiness-unibw.org/wiki/GoodRelations_Tutorial_ESWC2009
>
>
>
>
> <martin_hepp.vcf>

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Received on Thursday, 25 June 2009 17:30:36 UTC

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