W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-rdf-in-xhtml-tf@w3.org > August 2009

Re: Why bound prefixes are an anti-pattern in language design

From: Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>
Date: Sat, 8 Aug 2009 21:21:02 +0000 (UTC)
To: Martin McEvoy <martin@weborganics.co.uk>
Cc: Danny Ayers <danny.ayers@gmail.com>, Toby Inkster <tai@g5n.co.uk>, Othar Hansson <othar@othar.com>, RDFa Developers <public-rdf-in-xhtml-tf@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.62.0908082048190.28566@hixie.dreamhostps.com>
On Sat, 8 Aug 2009, Martin McEvoy wrote:
>
> Three things one must do to avoid becoming a Cargo Cult scientist...
> 
> 1, " researchers must first of all avoid fooling themselves"
> 
>   Reverse DNS Identifiers, They are just backwards urls right!

No, they have several properties that URIs do not: They can't be 
dereferenced, so there's no illusion of extra meaning; they are purely 
identifiers, not locators. They're shorter, and they use less punctuation, 
leading to a cleaner syntax.

Note that Microdata allows URIs to be used as well, though. You don't have 
to use reverse DNS identifiers if you don't want to.


>  2, "be willing to question and doubt their own theories and their own 
> results"
> 
>   'Prefixes are an anti-pattern and notoriously hard for authors to
> understand'.

I think there's ample evidence of this. I haven't just jumped to this 
conclusion, I've thought about it quite carefully.


>   'I have to admit to not really sharing your optimism that the future 
> of the Web involves HTML authors describing things in machine-readable 
> ways' ( I nearly fell of my chair when I read that )
> 
> Ian you *have* seen this ? : 
> http://www.ted.com/talks/tim_berners_lee_on_the_next_web.html Its 
> probably a good a place to start If you somehow missed how important 
> linked data is?

Yes. I've spoken personally to Tim about this, even. That doesn't mean 
that the execution of his vision is the right way of doing it. For 
example, identifying people with an http:// URI is counter-intuitive; 
insisting that we do it this way is a barrier to adoption, IMHO.

I think there's plenty of other ways of achieving Tim's vision without 
using the RDF data model as the only data model -- and in fact, systems 
like the following:

   http://tables.googlelabs.com/
   http://www.google.com/squared
   http://www.wolframalpha.com/

...are already addressing "linked data"-like problems without anything 
like RDF being involved.


> 3, "investigate possible flaws in a theory "
> 
> The whole of your design concept (linking machine data together causing 
> a long string "foo.example.directory.page#" ) was discussed in depth 
> over on Microformats New around two and a half years ago but if you had 
> talked to somebody about your "Idea" maybe someone could have stopped 
> you from wasting your time, in short It was generally thought of as a 
> bad Idea.

Microdata is not 'linking machine data together causing a long string 
"foo.example.directory.page#"'; what suggested that? If the spec isn't 
clear about this, I should fix it. What gave you that impression?

Microdata is just a machine-readable way of forming trees of name-value 
pairs from an HTML document. It is a dramatically simplified form of RDFa 
(RDFa was a big influence on its design, in fact).

-- 
Ian Hickson               U+1047E                )\._.,--....,'``.    fL
http://ln.hixie.ch/       U+263A                /,   _.. \   _\  ;`._ ,.
Things that are impossible just take longer.   `._.-(,_..'--(,_..'`-.;.'
Received on Saturday, 8 August 2009 21:21:48 GMT

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