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Information resources and RDFa

From: Mark Birbeck <mark.birbeck@x-port.net>
Date: Tue, 2 May 2006 18:41:29 +0100
To: "'public-rdf-in-xhtml task force'" <public-rdf-in-xhtml-tf@w3.org>
Message-ID: <04df01c66e0f$a9ca4c90$0e01a8c0@Jan>

Hello all,

Over the weekend I looked into the whole 'information resource' question,
because it is pretty important for RDFa. I decided to go back to basic
concepts and try to 'reconstruct' what exactly it was that we were saying
about documents, cars, planets and conferences, although I have to confess
that I did this because I was going to show that the whole notion of
'information resources' v. 'resources' was flawed! However, during this
'reconstruction' I found the opposite of what I was expecting--that the
information resource/resource distinction is completely necessary, and that
in fact most of what I had seen about information resources wasn't really
presenting the case 'for' very well.

Although I concluded that this was a very important issue, it surprise me
that it hadn't had any impact on people's work before. The reason I think
that those working on RDFa have come up against it (we had to rewrite parts
of our primer to 'hide' the issue until it was resolved), whilst others
haven't is because:

  * it generally doesn't show up when using separate
    RDF/XML documents;

  * metadata from HTML documents usually operates in
    a hermetically sealed silo, in which ambiguities
    are resolved by relying on implied knowledge.

Since the first solution is exactly what we are trying to get away from
(separate metadata documents) and the second approach, although used by
existing HTML documents and some extensions (like microformats), does not
scale across the web, then I felt it important to look into this issue to
see if it could be worked around for RDFa.

Since the explanation is quite long I've blogged about it here:


I've also placed my workings and conclusions into the middle of the
'Introduction to RDFa' that I was already working on, and this is now
available on our skimstone web-site:


This introduction is actually more about the 'why' of RDFa than the 'how'
(which is left to the primer), and is more suitable for those with at least
a little familiarity with RDF. But since it contains an attempt to show why
we need to have the notion of 'information resources', I thought it might be
of interest to this list.

I'd be very interested in any comments that people might have.



Mark Birbeck
x-port.net Ltd.

e: Mark.Birbeck@x-port.net
t: +44 (0) 20 7689 9232
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Received on Tuesday, 2 May 2006 17:42:52 UTC

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