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

From: Tom Heath <tom.heath@talis.com>
Date: Mon, 29 Jun 2009 01:20:08 +0200
Message-ID: <89f622f10906281620l5e12c260uc90b61a4f198d6e@mail.gmail.com>
To: Pat Hayes <phayes@ihmc.us>
Cc: martin.hepp@ebusiness-unibw.org, Danny Ayers <danny.ayers@gmail.com>, bill.roberts@planet.nl, public-lod@w3.org, semantic-web at W3C <semantic-web@w3c.org>
Hi Pat,

2009/6/25 Pat Hayes <phayes@ihmc.us>:
> With the sincerest respect, Tom, your attitude here is part of the problem.
> Maybe, along with many other people, I am indeed still stuck in the
> mid-1990s. You have permission to be as condescending as you like. But
> still, here I am, stuck. Thoroughly stuck. So no amount of condescending
> "sooo-20th-century, my dear" chatter is going to actually enable me to get
> to a place where I can do what you think I should be doing.

Condescension was never my intention here. My goal was to draw a
comparison that might enable us to learn a lesson from the history of
the Web and use that to help us move forward. As Mark described, over
the course of time more and more tools became available that made it
easier to publish HTML. Presumably these only arose because publishing
HTML was to some degree hard. The Web community has gone through this
process once already; let's learn the lessons from last time and apply
them to publishing RDF so people don't have to be stuck any more. Dan
outlined some technical approaches to doing this sort of thing. Some
domain-specific apps already exist that (hopefully) reduce the pain;
it was one of the goals of Revyu.com for example.

> I cannot use a
> rewrite rule to catch incoming requests, or do whatever you are talking
> about here. I live in an environment where I simply do not have access at
> all to the workings of my server at a level that close to the metal, because
> it is already woven into a clever maze of PHP machinery which is too fragile
> to allow erks like me to mess with it. Some of the best W3C techies have
> taken a look, and they can't find a way through it, either. Maybe Im in a
> special position, but I bet a whole lot of people, especially in the
> corporate world, are in a similar bind.

You're talking about two very different groups here. If the right
tools are created then individuals will presumably adopt some
specialised SaaS analogous to say wordpress.com. Corporations are a
different kettle of fish, but just as many built their own Web-serving
infrastructure in the 90s, so they will invest in publishing data to
the Semantic Web if they perceive adequate value (demonstrating that
value is where we need to be working even harder!).

> System level access to a server is
> quite a different beast than being allowed to publish HTML on a website
> somewhere. I can, and do, publish HTML, or indeed just about any file I
> like, but I don't get to insert code. So 6 lines or 600, it makes no
> difference.
>
> But in any case, this is ridiculous. RDF is just XML text, for goodness
> sake.  I need to insert lines of code into a server file,  and write PHP
> scripts, in order to publish some RDF or HTML?  That is insane. It would
> have been insane in the mid-1990s and its even more insane now.

No. This is incorrect. This discussion only applies to the
303-redirect/slash URI pattern. You can avoid this completely by using
the hash URI pattern as someone mentioned (sorry for not crediting
directly, getting hard to navigate this thread).

> IMO, it is
> you (and Tim and the rest of the W3C) who are stuck in the past here.  Most
> Web users do not, and will not, write code. They will be publishing content
> in a cloud somewhere, even further away from the gritty world of scripts and
> lines of code than people - most people - are now. Most actual content
> providers are never going to want to even know that PHP scripts exist, let
> alone be obliged to write or copy one.

You've over-interpreted my words here. See above.

> Martin is exactly right: this is a
> MAJOR bottleneck to SWeb adoption. Its up to the people in the TAG to listen
> to this fact and do something about it, not to keep issuing useless  'best
> practice' advice that cannot be followed by 99% of the world.

I think that's overplaying things. It's like saying "stop issuing best
practices for cardiac surgeons because Average Joe can't use those to
help improve his cardiac health".

> RDF should be text, in documents. One should be able to use it without
> knowing about anything more than the RDF spec and the XML spec. If it
> requires people to tinker with files with names starting with a dot, or
> write code, or deploy scripts, then the entire SWeb architecture is
> fundamentally broken.

The architecture of the Semantic Web is the architecture of Web. And
just as in the Web we have varied publishing patterns/workflows
(ranging from simple to hard), so we will in the Semantic Web.

Cheers,

Tom.
Received on Sunday, 28 June 2009 23:20:49 UTC

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