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

From: Paolo Missier <Paolo.Missier@ncl.ac.uk>
Date: Wed, 10 Oct 2012 09:12:56 +0100
Message-ID: <50752E08.3010208@ncl.ac.uk>
To: public-prov-wg@w3.org
Hi Paul, Graham

regarding pathway to adoption and simplicity, I think the primer does a good job at showing how to do "simple things simply". That 
should help reduce adoption anxiety.
Next, I think a best practices doc with a collection of provenance patterns and possibly case studies will be key to adoption.


On 10/10/2012 07:27, Paul Groth wrote:
> 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
>> --

-----------  ~oo~  --------------
Paolo Missier - Paolo.Missier@newcastle.ac.uk, pmissier@acm.org
School of Computing Science, Newcastle University,  UK
Received on Wednesday, 10 October 2012 08:13:18 UTC

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