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Re: Provenance specs: have we lost sight of the goal?

From: Paul Groth <p.t.groth@vu.nl>
Date: Wed, 10 Oct 2012 08:27:02 +0200
Message-ID: <CAJCyKRp-QuUEg0DwBEKiHuw1vDqmh1xV2qwhFp7k-KXUkoDxAA@mail.gmail.com>
To: Graham Klyne <GK@ninebynine.org>
Cc: W3C provenance WG <public-prov-wg@w3.org>
Hi Graham,

First, enjoy your holiday.

I think you make 2 a bit different points that I'd like to respond to
around adoption and simplicity.

1) Adoption
I'm actually enthusiastic about adoption. We already have two software
implementations coming from outside the WG [1], [2]. As well as
positive reports of usage by WG members. Once we get to
recommendations prov will be included as part of the rdfa initial
context [3] and I already know of several other users and extensions
of prov.

Obviously, we need to do more to encourage and increase adoption. I'm
open for suggestions here. Personally, I would like to do more blog
posts showing the ease with which you can use prov, for example, in
RDFa.

2) Simplicity
As you know, the group has done a lot of work on making things simpler
and easier to access. prov-primer and prov-o are both simple. I think
prov-xml will also be easy to understand. PROV-DM is long but has a
clear organization and is not meant as the entry point for the specs.
Clearly, prov-constraints is not simple but is not aimed at the target
audience of non-provenance specialist.

So my question, is there any way, that we can get concrete criticisms
so that we can address these concerns?

One suggestion I would make is to put the information on "where to
start" on our wiki page so that people know what they should read.


I think the whole group wants to make prov a success and I think it
will be. The demand for provenance interchange is there and we have a
solid solution. Now we need to complete the specs and also make sure
that they are properly communicated.

regards,
Paul


[1] OpenRDF Auditing Repository
http://www.openrdf.org/doc/alibaba/2.0-rc5/alibaba-repository-auditing/index.html
[2] Callimachus
http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-prov-comments/2012Oct/0001.html
[3] http://www.w3.org/2011/rdfa-context/rdfa-1.1

On Wed, Oct 10, 2012 at 12:04 AM, Graham Klyne <GK@ninebynine.org> wrote:
> (Now that I'm on holiday, away from the day-to-day pressures of getting stuff
> done, I find a little time to put down some nagging doubts I've been having
> about how our work is going...)
>
> Over the past few weeks, I have had informal discussions with a small number of
> people about the provenance specifications.  A common theme that has emerged is
> that the provenance specs are over-complicated, and that as a result many people
> (being non-provenance specialists) just will not use it.  I've suggested to
> these people that they submit last-call comments to the working group, but the
> general response has been along the lines of "Why should I bother?  It doesn't
> matter to me, I won't use it".
>
> This raises for me the possibility that we are working in an "echo chamber",
> hearing only the views of people who have a particular and deep interest in
> provenance, but not hearing the views of a wider audience who he hope will
> include and consume limited amounts of provenance information in their applications.
>
> Maybe it's only me, and the rest of you aren't hearing this kind of comment.
> But if you are I think that, as we go through the last call process, it is
> appropriate to reflect and consider if what we are producing is really relevant
> to the wider community we aim to serve.  Have we become too bound up with fine
> distinctions that don't matter, or don't apply in the same way, to the majority
> of potential provenance-generating and provenance-using applications?   Have we
> sacrificed approachability and simplicity that encourages widespread take-up on
> the altar of premature optimization to support particular usage scenarios?
>
> While I think these are relevant questions, I'm not sure if and what we might do
> about them.  But I also fear that what we produce may turn out to be irrelevant
> in the long run.
>
> #g
> --
>



-- 
--
Dr. Paul Groth (p.t.groth@vu.nl)
http://www.few.vu.nl/~pgroth/
Assistant Professor
- Knowledge Representation & Reasoning Group |
  Artificial Intelligence Section | Department of Computer Science
- The Network Institute
VU University Amsterdam
Received on Wednesday, 10 October 2012 06:30:23 UTC

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