W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-owl-wg@w3.org > October 2007

Re: User Facing Documents

From: Bijan Parsia <bparsia@cs.man.ac.uk>
Date: Wed, 31 Oct 2007 15:56:50 +0000
Message-Id: <3F36467E-750F-489A-A7D1-2A6CFB7800EE@cs.man.ac.uk>
Cc: public-owl-wg@w3.org
To: Jim Hendler <hendler@cs.rpi.edu>

On 31 Oct 2007, at 14:46, Jim Hendler wrote:

> Bijan
>    I don't think any of us are talking end users in the sense of  
> "grandma"

But it's not clear. And some people's grandma's have PhD's in  
computer science and chairs at prestigious universities ;)

My point is that without clear identification of the users we're  
interested in reaching (and how, and why), we don't know what's the  
best use of WG resource. Different audiences have very different  
requirements. I adjust my presentation of material all the time*.

> but if we're going to see more OWL uptake, many of us believe

Jim, it will be easier for me if you clearly mention who you think  
believes what, or speak strictly for yourself. Right now, I have a  
rough idea of who you think is in the many, but I'd rather be able to  
slot them by name (hence my listing of users who've made requests  
about annotations, etc.).

> that people will want at least some understanding of the language  
> "while they stand on one foot" to decide whether to dig in deeper.

I don't disagree with this at all. It's clearly true. But people get  
that at least some understanding in a variety of different ways. Some  
people get turned off by certain ways. So, for example, the OWL1.0  
user documents are very RDF/XML based, and there's some evidence that  
the semantic web community (or at least a vocal fraction) is moving  
away from RDF/XML as a user facing syntax. This is something we have  
to take into account. As a WG we aren't as free as third parties.

There are several ways to handle this, including switchable syntax.  
But I'd rather the working group provided a hub for user facing  
material than be a producer of it. That is, use our bully pulpit to  
get writers to learn and to write stuff for a *wide* variety of  
audiences. So, I think we get most joy by making documents that  
support *those* users.

Many of your suggestions, fwiw, do that! E.g., index of terms. So I  
support those.

I'm trying to articulate principles to help us decide.

> Further, we've seen with OWL 1.0 that there are some communities  
> that are willing to pick and choose a few OWL constructs to use in  
> their applications.  I don't think that is a bad thing, and it  
> provides an "on ramp" to OWL.  FOAF, SKOS and vocabularies in the  
> individual sciences are starting to pick up on some OWL constructs,  
> and I think it is good to keep this coming.

I agree, but this is definitely orthogonal.

>   Most of these people are not trained logicians or people with DL  
> backgrounds, and given how impenetrable I find the current three  
> documents, and I do have that training, I'm guessing a lot of them  
> simply won't take the time to see if the new constructs are of use,  
> until there's a simple way to look at them and get a feel.

This hasn't been true in my experience, basically because people just  
*ask* me. Or rather, a rather shallow approach is sufficient.

Plus, again, there are a variety of ways to do this (e.g., blogs, etc.).

>   I think it is important that we let people know what OWL may look  
> like after the new version, and see what kind of response we get  
> from the application designers using OWL,

So, all the features in OWL 1.1 came from user requirements, some of  
long standing. All have been used by end users who are not tool  
developers. I've pointed to these people and testimonials and  
evidence over and over.

All without specific end user documents.

I've put together 3 international workshops specifically to solicit  
user feedback and to improve the communication lines between vendors,  
language designers, and users. This is an ongoing process.

So I agree with the value but disagree with some of the (sketchily  
proposed) tactics. I agree with some of the other tactics.

Can we not agree that I agree with the goals and they don't have to  
be articulated yet again, especially with the heavy insinuation that  
I don't agree or understand those goals?

> rather than only from the people developing OWL "power tools" like  
> Pellet and SWOOP  [1]

But non-power users use these tools and it is through those tools  
that they experiment with the language. One of my points is that you  
are much more likely to get end-users experimenting with things and  
making *informed decisions* if you give them good tools to work with.  
Hence my strong efforts to get robust and widespread tools support.  
Users of tools generally prefer language documentation that's tied to  
their favored tool, something which the WG can't support.

>  it's also clear to me that we will eventually have to create a  
> reference for the new features, as well as some sort of examples  
> that people can cut and paste to make sure they get the syntax  
> right while learning the language

This presumes that cnp of some syntax is a major development vector.  
Ian pasted some evidence that this isn't true. If it isn't, then we  
have to ask whether supporting those users directly is worth teh effort.

>    So while you are right that end-user studies are very tied to  
> particular users, that is not what any of us seem to be proposing.

No, *any end user stuff* is tied to particular sorts of users. If you  
want to write an article about OWL for businessweek, it needs to be  
very different from one from XML.com, which is very different from  
one for ISWC.

Roughly, it seems that people worry that the current documents are  
like something for ISWC, and that the WG needs to produces stuff for  
somewhere between XML.com and BusinessWeek (I suspect you are wanting  
more XML.com, but Vipul seemed to suggest businessweekness).

> Rather, we're looklng for an easier way than the current documents  
> for people

Which people? That's my point.

> to "Grok the fullness" of OWL 1.1's new features and to give us  
> feedback (as well as to get excited about those things in the new  
> version they might see as useful

And I'm suggesting that wg documents, esp. rec-track ones, are not  
the most effective way to do this. I've given a number of reasons why

> - which will also be necessary later in the process when we are  
> trying to get the AC excited)

I think a wide array of tools and third party articles is much more  
useful for that. I've given reasons for that, and can give more.

Again, what would you prefer, "What is OWL?" on XML.com or an OWL  
primer on W3C space? For convincing AC people, I'd much rather have  
the former. So too for reaching a wider audience.

Cheers,
Bijan.
Received on Wednesday, 31 October 2007 15:55:21 GMT

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