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Re: The way we do things in the Semantic Web community (was: Re: Labelled graphs)

From: Sandro Hawke <sandro@w3.org>
Date: Wed, 25 Apr 2012 14:44:35 -0400
To: Richard Cyganiak <richard@cyganiak.de>
Cc: Andy Seaborne <andy.seaborne@epimorphics.com>, Ivan Herman <ivan@w3.org>, public-rdf-wg@w3.org
Message-ID: <1335379475.9663.422.camel@waldron>
On Wed, 2012-04-25 at 18:56 +0100, Richard Cyganiak wrote:
> On 25 Apr 2012, at 14:48, Sandro Hawke wrote:
> > The problem is, I think, that the only way to find out if some design
> > works is to convince a lot of people to try it at the same time.   How
> > can you do that?  It looks to me like the way we do that in the Semantic
> > Web community is to make it a W3C Recommendation (or a least Candidate
> > Recommendation).
> 
> No. The way we do this in the Semantic Web community is by building stuff *outside* of W3C, and once we've gathered a few years of experience, we bring our experience and our battle-tested designs to W3C so we can find a single good design that interoperates between different vendors and sub-communities.
> 
> Yes, there are some documents that carry the W3C Recommendation badge that were created, as you say, for the purpose of finding out whether some design works. These have generally ended up being ugly blemishes on W3C's reputation.
> 
> Sandro, if you want to design brand-new stuff and try if it works, then you should change jobs and come work in academia for a while. We get paid to do research!

(That's a little close to ad hominem, Richard.) 

I certainly agree it's best to figure things out before bringing them to
W3C.   (And, yes, I would like to do more of that myself.  Over the
years, I've moved back and forth between MIT research and W3C work, and
I've been more on the W3C side than I like recently.  I'm looking for
funding to move back, at least part time.   But, bottom line, I want to
work wherever I can do the most good in making this stuff work.)

But it's well known that once something enters the W3C process, no
matter how "battle-tested" it might be, the WG still finds lots to
improve.   So there's always some additional research/design/development
work that has to happen during the WG process.   That's much of why we
need CR.

I will grant that sometimes it turns out there's too much additional R&D
to do, and we need to re-think the WG, backing out of the W3C process.
This may be one of those situations, although we had enough consensus
today that I think we can go ahead with some of it, at least.

On the other hand, please consider my point: sometimes we can't know
whether a design will work until trying it in a fairly big arena, with a
lot of attention.   As I understand the history, XML was designed by a
W3C Working Group.  Has it succeeded?  Yes, sort of.  Has it failed?
Yes, sort of, mostly when it was applied in areas not anticipated by the
WG (like for serializing data).   

Yes, we probably only get one shot with a W3C Recommendation for this,
so we don't want to get it wrong.  But the Named Graphs paper was seven
years ago.  I don't think sitting back and waiting for more research to
happen is a great strategy, either.

Do you think something has been blocking the research since 2005 but
would allow it to really move ahead now?

   -- Sandro (please send academic job offers to sandro@example.com)
Received on Wednesday, 25 April 2012 18:44:47 UTC

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