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Re: Cycles

From: Dan Brickley <danbri@danbri.org>
Date: Fri, 26 Aug 2011 09:30:18 +0200
Message-ID: <CAFNgM+a=C8C4PrkPgcAa+AG1KZcb8fo-7QH=QwCV_4=eZRyMfQ@mail.gmail.com>
To: Ian Davis <ian.davis@talis.com>
Cc: RDF WG <public-rdf-wg@w3.org>
On 25 August 2011 01:23, Ian Davis <ian.davis@talis.com> wrote:
> Perhaps a little light relief :)
>
> I came across this after Danny Ayers linked to one of his
> contributions to the thread.
>
> http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-rdf-interest/2002Nov/0003.html
>
> Best read by squinting so the letters X,M,L look like J,S,O,N

Well, quite.

The RDF community has a distressing tendency towards syntax-envy,
always looking jealously at the greater adoption levels enjoyed by
other syntaxes. Unfortunately the issue will never be fixed by making
(some version of) RDF look more like the most currently fashionable
data syntax. Our problems are deeper: XML and JSON can be prettier
because that's all there is to them. Unlike RDF, they're not a mapping
from a concrete syntax to a different, invisible, abstract data-model.
Sure there are canonical abstractions (Infoset/DOM etc.), but there is
not the same mis-match between how-it-looks and how-it-works that RDF
tends to bring to the table.

The idea of pushing work into syntactic-schema annotations has been
around almost as long a RDF, but never caught on. Our only
standards-track effort in that direction, GRDDL, doesn't seem widely
loved (although
http://search.cpan.org/~tobyink/JSON-GRDDL-0.001_00/lib/JSON/GRDDL.pm
remains intriguing).

While we can always do more work to improve things on the syntax
front, I feel it's often used as an excuse for deeper, subtler
problems that face RDF adoption, and that some more careful
investigations into RDF usability might repay the investment.

In http://www.slideshare.net/danbri/when-presentation-849447 I touched
on three mini post-mortems for situations where RDF was used and
rejected, or where we'd have expected it to be used, and it wasn't. In
none of those situations was syntactic elegance a major consideration;
rather, it was working with RDF 'as RDF' and its available tooling
that caused the problems. RDF tools continue to improve, but even if
we come up with the most beautiful and elegant XML^H^H^HJSON syntax
for encoding RDF, there's much more to working with RDF than merely
parsing it.

cheers,

Dan
Received on Friday, 26 August 2011 07:30:54 GMT

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