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

From: Tom De Nies <tom.denies@ugent.be>
Date: Wed, 10 Oct 2012 10:51:46 +0200
Message-ID: <CA+=hbbfrxSuNhEHTi-WM85FDR1jnBuRar6+NH7ZZ6++ZoGCO9Q@mail.gmail.com>
To: public-prov-wg@w3.org
 Hi Graham,

I think your statement of "Why should I bother?  It doesn't matter to me, I
won't use it" applies to any standard out there. I'm sure that for a
non-linked-data-expert the RDF specifications appear daunting, but that
doesn't mean they're not widely used.
I believe our main goal is facilitating the interchange of provenance, not
making sure every non-expert can assert his own after 10 minutes of
reading. You don't expect to learn all of CSS in one day either. Maybe
you'd be able to position some divs and change some colors after some
practice, much as you'd be able to make some basic PROV assertions after
reading the PROV-DM core or the primer. Also, much like there are tools to
manage a page's layout for people who don't want to learn CSS, you can
expect tools to manage PROV information associated with a document. These
tools are created by experts, who know the spec in and out, but the /use/
of the standard is widespread, even among non-experts.

Just my thoughts on the matter...
Enjoy the rest of your holiday!

Best regards,

2012/10/10 Paolo Missier <Paolo.Missier@ncl.ac.uk>

> 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.
> -Paolo
> 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<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<http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-prov-comments/2012Oct/0001.html>
>> [3] http://www.w3.org/2011/rdfa-**context/rdfa-1.1<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
> http://www.cs.ncl.ac.uk/**people/Paolo.Missier<http://www.cs.ncl.ac.uk/people/Paolo.Missier>
Received on Wednesday, 10 October 2012 08:52:17 UTC

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