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Re: JSON Emergency Brake

From: Ivan Herman <ivan@w3.org>
Date: Tue, 23 Aug 2011 17:54:31 +0200
Cc: Thomas Steiner <tomac@google.com>, RDF WG <public-rdf-wg@w3.org>
Message-Id: <A2931642-BC1A-4F21-B080-6B7F45794D68@w3.org>
To: Richard Cyganiak <richard@cyganiak.de>
Richard,

I think what this says (and I think we did say that in the past) is that, in fact, there are two very distinct audiences for JSON+RDF: RDF geeks like us who need a quick-to-parse javascript format, and web application developers who need something higher level, so to say, and that is where JSON-LD might come in. 

It seems to be very difficult to reconcile the two communities so (yes, I know, you will say 'the typical W3C compromise:-)') we may need both.

Indeed, we will have to be very careful with the messaging.

Ivan

On Aug 23, 2011, at 17:44 , Richard Cyganiak wrote:

> Thomas,
> 
> Your point seems to be: We should stop working on RDF/JSON, because JavaScript developers who are already familiar with JSON will look at it and not like it.
> 
> The target audience of RDF/JSON is not JavaScript developers who are already familiar with JSON. It is RDF developers who work in JavaScript. Nothing more, nothing less. It's a format designed to fill a small but concrete niche. This has been said in our discussions over and over again, so it's nothing new.
> 
> You are saying that the wrong people might look at RDF/JSON and they might think it's meant for them. I think the correct response to that is *not* to stop working on RDF/JSON, but to make sure that the messaging around the format does not create the impression that it's targeted at them.
> 
> One step towards avoiding that impression would be to rename it, removing JSON from the name.
> 
> Best,
> Richard
> 
> 
> 
> On 23 Aug 2011, at 16:25, Thomas Steiner wrote:
> 
>> Dear all,(*)
>> 
>> ===
>> TL;DR: in my humble opinion, we should not continue with RDF/JSON, but
>> fully focus on JSON-LD even if it might take longer, as JSON-LD feels
>> like  JSON, whereas RDF/JSON feels like RDF in a JSON camouflage.
>> ===
>> 
>> First and foremost, I want to apologize for whatever toes I step on
>> with this email. This email is in no way meant as an offense to the
>> individuals and companies involved, and I want to highlight that I'm
>> in the comfortable - but also unthankful - position of the (hopefully)
>> neutral observer, who enters the discussion when all the foundational
>> work has already been done. By this foundational work I mean RDF/JSON
>> [1] by Talis, and JSON-LD [2] by PaySwarm (forgive the simplification
>> of not mentioning persons, but companies). Thanks! It's excellent! I
>> could not have done it.
>> 
>> Now, in ISSUE-2 [3], we came to the conclusion to "(1) Incubate on
>> something like JSON-LD, (2) make a REC on something like Talis
>> RDF/JSON [...]". The more and more I look at both specs, the more and
>> more I feel like the resolution we agreed on for ISSUE-2 was wrong.
>> Following ACTION-38 [4] where Ivan had asked me to become a co-editor
>> on the to-be-REC'ed Talis RDF/JSON that I accepted, the proposed
>> workflow was Ian to commit a first draft of the document ([1]
>> effectively), that could then be discussed.
>> 
>> I have fully re-read both specs, but all honestly, the actual
>> eye-openers for me were a blog post [5] by Alexandre Passant and a
>> tweet by Christopher Gutteridge [6]. JSON-LD is(**) about objects,
>> simple default assumptions, elegancy, and developers in mind, whereas
>> RDF/JSON seems to be created with the premise to carry all the
>> expressiveness of RDF over to JSON, whatever the cost might be. Coming
>> more from a JavaScript camp than from an RDF camp myself, this feels
>> wrong. Of course I can see where RDF/JSON came from, and it completely
>> makes sense from that perspective. In the next paragraph, I explain
>> why.
>> 
>> Let me try to explain my main concerns with a bad metaphor (there's a
>> long tradition of those...). Web developers, JavaScript people, those
>> who speak JSON natively, are the cool kids. We are the detached youth
>> workers [7] who put on an adidas hoodie, read up on street slang on
>> the Internet, and try to behave just like the cool kids. We serve them
>> RDF/JSON (yes, yes, yo, homie), but we will probably fail. They see
>> through our plan, we risk to get laughed at. RDF/JSON just does not
>> feel natural to them, and this now, at a critical point, where
>> semantics are kind of back in the section "cool" of the news. Of
>> course I'm referring to schema.org(***). If we get a syntax REC out
>> now that does not feel native to the cool kids (even if we incubate on
>> something better [3]), we risk on losing traction. I have asked some
>> Google JavaScript people for advise, and they feel "at home" in
>> JSON-LD. It is the language they speak. I feel at home in JSON-LD.
>> Others do [8, 9], [10]. The Twitter feedback on the RDF/JSON draft
>> release [1] is relatively critical [11].
>> 
>> Now, those are tough claims and vague feelings, but I considered them
>> important enough to write this email. Apologies again to whomever toes
>> I have stepped on. My concrete proposition is: we refrain from working
>> further on the RDF/JSON REC, and fully focus on JSON-LD instead. I
>> would also like to back out of being an editor of [1], as I have not
>> done anything at all on that spec yet, and because I feel it is wrong
>> at this point in time, as hopefully explained in this email. While I
>> have done very, very limited amounts of work on JSON-LD (just
>> following the discussion mainly), I am happy to serve as an editor
>> thereof in fulfillment of what I agreed on in ACTION-38 [4], but it
>> feels like adorning myself with borrowed plumes, as the German saying
>> goes, and very much undeserved. Maybe we can discuss this during one
>> of the next RDF WG meetings, maybe even in a joint RDF - RDFa WG
>> meeting.
>> 
>> In the hope of not having hurt too many feelings, but rather started a
>> productive discussion instead.
>> 
>> Best,
>> Tom
>> 
>> [1] http://dvcs.w3.org/hg/rdf/raw-file/default/rdf-json/index.html
>> [2] http://json-ld.org/spec/latest/
>> [3] http://www.w3.org/2011/rdf-wg/track/issues/2
>> [4] http://www.w3.org/2011/rdf-wg/track/actions/38
>> [5] http://blog.seevl.net/2011/08/18/about-json-ld-and-content-negotiation/
>> [6] http://twitter.com/cgutteridge/status/105894098023620608
>> [7] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Youth_work#Detached_youth_work
>> [8] http://twitter.com/orlin/status/104926442843934721
>> [9] http://twitter.com/orlin/status/104797459292753920 (note the
>> hashtag #unsemanticweblike)
>> [10] http://twitter.com/terraces/status/105066802740080640
>> [11] https://twitter.com/#!/search/realtime/rdf%20json%20-RT
>> (realtime, might have changed when you click the link)
>> 
>> (*) Full disclaimer: I have had this email be ACK'ed off-list by Ian
>> Davis, Manu Sporny, Guus Schreiber, and Ivan Herman before sending it
>> on-list now.
>> 
>> (**) When I write "is", "seems", etc., basically all verbs, all this
>> reflects my impression that I personally got. You can add an "IMHO"
>> suffix to each sentence. The spec authors will probably disagree with
>> some assumptions.
>> 
>> (***) I was not at all involved in any of the schema.org discussions,
>> plannings, the concept at all. All what I'm writing here on this
>> topic, I do it with my Google hat off.
>> 
>> --
>> Thomas Steiner, Research Scientist, Google Inc.
>> http://blog.tomayac.com, http://twitter.com/tomayac
>> 
> 
> 


----
Ivan Herman, W3C Semantic Web Activity Lead
Home: http://www.w3.org/People/Ivan/
mobile: +31-641044153
PGP Key: http://www.ivan-herman.net/pgpkey.html
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Received on Tuesday, 23 August 2011 15:51:58 GMT

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