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Re: Another try.

From: Dan Brickley <danbri@danbri.org>
Date: Wed, 22 Feb 2012 16:47:06 +0100
Message-ID: <CAFfrAFrecc3H6CP+LRnVuqNwnK5tREsK7u-n-5HpPQjamfo43g@mail.gmail.com>
To: Sandro Hawke <sandro@w3.org>, Pat Hayes <phayes@ihmc.us>
Cc: Andy Seaborne <andy.seaborne@epimorphics.com>, public-rdf-wg@w3.org
On 22 February 2012 16:01, Sandro Hawke <sandro@w3.org> wrote:
> On Tue, 2012-02-21 at 15:43 -0600, Pat Hayes wrote:
>>  the rdf: and rdfs: vocabularies are not intended to be used
>> 'contextually' (eg they dont change with time and should be resistant
>> to subjective re-interpretation)
> Is that really true?

Depends whose intention you're considering. I think the general
consensus around W3C, from the start of this project, was that RDF/S
*would* be used to describe things whose characteristics changed over
time. So filesizes, city population counts, ages, even gender. At the
same (1) there was an acknowledgement from the start that the RDF'99
could do with cleaning up, formalising, and care.  (2) pretty much
everyone understood there were tradeoffs between using data idioms
that "age well" (eg. preferring date of birth to age), even if they're
awkward, and the likelihood that RDF/S would be used for describing
volatile characteristics too (3) the formalisation from RDFCore era
... nobody expected the logic folk (Pat, Peter and friends) to come up
with a formal account that dealt with time and change and similar
awkward messy aspects. And they didn't; and nobody really minded that.
But it introduced a kind of disconnect between RDF-in-practice and
RDF-as-spec'd (and a matching disconnect between different members of
the community around RDF).

So we just sort of quietly pretended (in the nicest possible way) that
RDF wouldn't be used to describe changing characteristics of things,
even while knowing full well this would happen in practice. I think
the little Dilbert writeup I made last year -
http://danbri.org/words/2011/11/03/753 - shows how inevitable it is.
But if anything went wrong, we could always say "hey, .. you didn't
read the small print!" and point them at the official semantics which
describe a nice clean simple universe frozen in time. I'd say it's
overstating the case to say RDF/RDFS (RDFCore edition) were "not
intended" to be used in situations where characteristics changed. We
just didn't know how to formalise our description of that. And so now
we're left with a big lump in the carpet...

Received on Wednesday, 22 February 2012 15:47:39 UTC

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