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Re: A comment on the Primer draft, part 1 Introduction

From: Deborah L. McGuinness <dlm@ksl.stanford.edu>
Date: Fri, 25 Jan 2008 08:59:07 -0500
Message-ID: <4799EB2B.5010504@ksl.stanford.edu>
To: Jim Hendler <hendler@cs.rpi.edu>
CC: Ivan Herman <ivan@w3.org>, Bijan Parsia <bparsia@cs.man.ac.uk>, "Peter F. Patel-Schneider" <pfps@research.bell-labs.com>, OWL Working Group WG <public-owl-wg@w3.org>, w3t-archive@w3.org

let me start with one hopefully positive note that i think many can 
agree on - the notion of having multiple syntaxes hidden or exposed with 
buttons is very nice and i think any document we write should consider 
using this idea.

another point is i have no doubt that the primer could be an interesting 
and useful document.  introducing a primer though introduces the 
additional burden of how it is differentiated or the same as the other 
documents we have commitments to produce.

what i do not agree with though is that the primer is or could be a 
replacement for the overview and the guide.
i do not think we as a working group can possibly claim consensus on 
that point since i have heard either verbal or verbal and written 
resistance to this point from at least myself, jim, evan, elisa, and conrad.
at the f2f meeting bijan proposed two things with this document
1 - that he had ideas about a technical infrastructure for our documents 
(with the notion of folding and unfolding)
2 - that he had ideas about a primer and further that that primer could 
replace the overview and guide.

we agreed in a lunch meeting at the f2f that bijan would take the lead 
on producing something that we could use to evaluate the technical 
approach.  i think that is successful in terms of folding and 
unfolding.  it was suggested by evan and i agreed that he might generate 
a small portion so that we could evaluate the approach before a lot of 
work was done.  now we are in a more uncomfortable position since a lot 
of work has been done and at least some people have serious reservations 
about the goal of using a primer to replace the overview and guide.

most if not all collaborative writing experiences i have engaged in  
took on an outline  stage where concerned parties agreed on an outline 
(and then potentially  divided up the work) and also sometimes  
explicitly and sometimes implicitly agreed upon the goals.

we have not agreed on an outline or on the goals.
the straw poll at the f2f meeting only voted on starting points and 
showed there was disagreement how to start.  also we should note that we 
agreed that if we were going to follow up on proposals such as one 
presented at the f2f of writing an overview that is something in between 
the owl 1.0 overview and the 1.1 member submission overview, then we 
were instructed to vote to start over.
we did not engage in a straw poll on goals and if one proposal is to 
write a  primer and use that as a replacement for the overview and the 
guide, i am in very strong opposition to that proposal. 
a different goal is to create a  primer that will (only be) a 
replacement for the guide.  i also am not thrilled about that idea since 
i think the goals of a primer are different than the goals of a guide 
but there is overlap in the goals so i think this one has a shot at success.


Jim Hendler wrote:
> I am unsure of the status of this document - my previous understanding 
> was that it was being shown as an example of what the technology would 
> allow (i.e. diferent syntax options) now it seems to be being reviewed 
> as a WG document.  I have many issues with it, Ivan notes a couple 
> below, and I have others -- but the key thing is I have not seen a WG 
> dicussion of this approach to the primer, nor discussion of whether a 
> single document like this complies to the charter.  So somehow it has 
> gone from an experiment in documentation to being discussed as a 
> proposed document.  I don't know if it is proposed as rec track or 
> not, and I don't see appropriate discussion of its relation to the OWL 
> 1.0 documents that it proposes to replace (the Guide, for example, is 
> more comprehensive than this).
>  Traditionally one does not review a document until the WG has reached 
> some consensus that they want that document to exist - and I don't see 
> that discussion having been resolved at this point.  
>  I'm sorry if I seem obstructionist, but I believe things are being 
> pushed through this WG way faster, and with less consensus than WG 
> process would seem to indicate, and I believe that organizations that 
> are in the minority are not being appropriately listened to.  My 
> organization has made this concern in private to the WG chair, and in 
> this case I wish to explain, in public, why I am unhappy with the way 
> the documents outside of the OWL 1.1 submission, although mandated by 
> our charter, are not being appropriately discussed.  
>  So, in light of the above,  I want to make it clear that:
>   I believe the Working Group is reviewing a document that has not 
> been appropriately discussed or developed via the W3C process, nor do 
> I yet see compelling evidence that this document is compliant with the 
> WG charter. 
>   -Jim Hendler
>   AC rep
>   RPI
> On Jan 23, 2008, at 5:11 AM, Ivan Herman wrote:
>> Bijan, Peter,
>> a small comment on
>> http://webont.org/owl/documents/primer.html
>> The current document says:
>> [[[
>> Resource Description Framework (RDF) and Schema: Of the technologies 
>> discussed in this section, RDF(S) is the closest to OWL. They both 
>> have roots in logic based knowledge representation; in many ways, 
>> RDF(S) can be seen as a subset of OWL; and, perhaps most prominently, 
>> the primary exchange syntax for OWL has been RDF/XML. However, there 
>> are differences of style, emphasis, and common practice that can make 
>> relying on RDF(S) intuitions misleading when working with OWL. For 
>> example, while OWL statements and expressions can be encoded as RDF 
>> facts (triples), the triple view is not typically a fruitful way of 
>> writing or understanding complex expressions. Similarly, it is fairly 
>> common and effective to work with RDF as a graph data structure or 
>> database where the primary focus is on the explicit statements in the 
>> graph. Even when we consider parts of RDFS which support implicit 
>> knowledge, such as subclass inheritance, the relation between the 
>> explicit and implicit statements is very direct. Thus, it is easy to 
>> conceptualize inference in terms of graph structure manipulation.
>> In contrast, OWL allows for -- and encourages -- operations that are 
>> not rooted so directly in the evident structure of an ontology.
>> ]]]
>> I am not sure how to reconcile this paragraph with our constituency 
>> using RDFS plus one of the very simple fragments of OWL1.1 (say, 
>> DLP). For those users the last sentence may not be really true; their 
>> modus of operation is certainly using RDFS, explicit graph structure, 
>> triplets, and direct structure statements (eg, stating that a 
>> specific FOAF property is inverse functional in defining FOAF).
>> I know there is an open issue somewhere down in the document on how 
>> to address fragments in general, and I am not sure what your thoughts 
>> on that issue is. But we should avoid creating a possible 
>> misunderstanding in an introductory paragraph...
>> It may be as simple as saying that in the case of more complex 
>> ontologies "OWL allows for -- and encourages --" etc. I am not 100% 
>> sure either.
>> Ivan
>> -- 
>> Ivan Herman, W3C Semantic Web Activity Lead
>> Home: http://www.w3.org/People/Ivan/
>> PGP Key: http://www.ivan-herman.net/pgpkey.html
>> FOAF: http://www.ivan-herman.net/foaf.rdf
> "If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn't be called research, would 
> it?." - Albert Einstein
> Prof James Hendler http://www.cs.rpi.edu/~hendler 
> <http://www.cs.rpi.edu/%7Ehendler>
> Tetherless World Constellation Chair
> Computer Science Dept
> Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy NY 12180
Received on Friday, 25 January 2008 13:59:32 UTC

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