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Re: Fwd: [Linking-open-data] Drupal 7 to be a major linked data client

From: Arto Bendiken <arto.bendiken@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 11 Mar 2008 02:44:27 +0100
Message-ID: <47fe11b70803101844p38eae088gcd45211e05124854@mail.gmail.com>
To: "W3C SW Education and Outreach IG" <public-sweo-ig@w3.org>
Cc: "Dries Buytaert" <dries.buytaert@gmail.com>, "Boris Mann" <boris@raincitystudios.com>, "Miglius Alaburda" <miglius@gmail.com>, "Ben Lavender" <blavender@gmail.com>

Hello Kjetil and Leo,

To clarify the backstory and context of the discussion:

Until recently, there have been perhaps a dozen Drupal developers
actively working at the intersection of Drupal and RDF-based
technologies - these consist pretty much of the various authors of the
modules I listed in my earlier e-mail (which Danny forwarded to this

Now, Dries Buytaert's endorsement last week [1] of RDF as a key
technology in the upcoming next Drupal version (7.0) has generated a
lot of buzz in the Drupal community, and as a result a much larger
bunch of Drupal developers are in the process of looking into and
learning about RDF and SPARQL - some of them for the first time,
others with eyes already clouded by previous sentiment from the early
days of RDF.

For the former group, hearing about RDF and SPARQL for (pretty much)
the first time, it seems that the presently demonstrable [2] benefits
are convincing enough on their own, and there is clear enthusiasm
about tackling the learning curve and get to building solutions that
have heretofore been complex and difficult; the task for us
Drupal-on-RDF folks here is to simply maintain momentum, with regards
to development and documentation of the key RDF-based modules and

The real challenge is the latter group, which includes some prominent
senior Drupal developers. On this front we will need to overcome
prevailing RDF myths, some the most prevalent ones (off the top of my
head) being related to "lack of widespread adoption", "lack of
performance/scalability", "too much complexity", and so on. In other
words, things that may have been true once upon a time but more likely
than not have been put to rest since then.

In addition, there is the matter of the syntax versus semantics issue
- that is, people still insist on comparing XML and RDF as if they
weren't apples to oranges, and yet others have persisted in imagining
RDF as merely an early version of RSS, now supposed to be dead and
trampled over by the Atom bandwagon. There is clearly much unlearning
and re-education work to be done on these matters; but I would guess
SWEO members have heard these concerns previously.

On Mon, Mar 10, 2008 at 2:07 PM, Leo Sauermann <leo.sauermann@dfki.de> wrote:
> I don't know your role in all this, but it would be good to point the
> community to tutorials about the Semantic Web.

I'm the developer of the RDF API [3], SPARQL [4] and Exhibit modules
[5] for Drupal, an all-fronts restart of the RDFization of Drupal on
the newest, just-released version (6.0) of the platform. This work has
currently reached a mostly usable alpha stage and I have secured the
funding to see it through.

Dries's endorsement came at an opportune time, and the consortium I
represent [6] collaborated with Dries to produce the 5-minute "video
from the future" mashup demonstration [7] for his keynote presentation
at Drupalcon Boston 2008.

Once released and validated on Drupal 6.x, the key parts of the RDF
API and SPARQL modules will be submitted for inclusion into Drupal
7.0's core. What happens from thereon out is up to Dries, and to some
extent, the prevailing mood of the Drupal developer community.

> Two lists will help you to teach the Drupal community,
> http://sweo-dev.talis.com/engage-ea/tag/tutorial
> http://esw.w3.org/topic/SweoIG/TaskForces/InfoGathering/RecommendedTutorials#beginnerstech

Thanks for the links - I wasn't aware of these resources. I've now
added them to the "RDF for Drupal developers" introductory link list
that I maintain at [8].

> otherwise - how could we help you out?

I think there are a number of things that the SWEO initiative could
help us out with. Here follow some initial thoughts in brief:

 1. RDF myths debunked

    It would be very useful to be able to point people at a collected
"RDF Myths" wiki page that would debunk some of the more widespread
basic myths and misunderstandings about RDF, such as those I mentioned
above. It would preferably be written at a level any RDF novice could
understand, and would attempt to explain matters from a number of
viewpoints that people would be likely to be coming from (especially
taking into account XML or RDBMS bigots). Perhaps such a page exists,
but I don't know of it.

    For example, in my experience people stuck in the "RDF = slow,
bloated, complex" camp tend to be somewhat appeased after learning
that RDF/XML can, these days, be done away with in favor of more
human-readable formats such as Turtle; in addition, simple RDFa
examples have also proved helpful for showing how HTML pages can
sprinkled with semantics (with the tagline, "RDFa as the ultimate
microformat") without the need for heavy investment upfront.

  2. External validation

    As I wrote before, any positive publicity that you guys could help
shower on these efforts will help in convincing the Drupal
community-at-large that the direction Dries has outlined for Drupal
7.0 is audacious but not unprecedented nor taking place in a vacuum.
(The Talis guys, and others, have already been doing a pretty good job
of disseminating the news from Drupalcon - thanks!)

  3. Endorsement and adoption

    One special point of pride that the Drupal community has been able
to claim for a while now is the fact that Tim BL blogs using Drupal.
If anyone here would be able to get the word to Tim BL regarding
Drupal embracing his vision, that would be fantastic.

  4. Mentorship and participation

    There is still at present a dearth of RDF know-how in the Drupal
community, and I would very much like to solicit input from Semantic
Web folks into the formative discussions now taking place in the
Drupal Semantic Web interest group [9]. The foundation for RDF in
Drupal will be firmly laid in the next few months, and decisions taken
in the immediate future may stick around for a while, so it would be
great to get things right the first time (where possible).

  5. RDF Schema for Drupal

    The immediate action item that could benefit from the RDF
expertise represented in SWEO is the ongoing effort to define an RDF
schema for Drupal. Stéphane Corlosquet has posted an initial proposal
at [10].

I appreciate the interest shown by SWEO and would be available to
participate in a SWEO conference call at your convenience should you
guys think it beneficial for furthering the discussion.

Best regards from sunny Spain,

PS. I've copied this conversation to my colleagues Miglius Alaburda
and Ben Lavender, and to Boris Mann, Drupal evangelist extraordinaire
and marketing czar of the Drupal Association.

[1] http://blogs.talis.com/nodalities/2008/03/the_best_is_yet_to_come.php
[2] http://boston2008.datagraph.org/
[3] http://drupal.org/project/rdf
[4] http://drupal.org/project/sparql
[5] http://drupal.org/project/exhibit
[6] http://groups.drupal.org/node/9010
[7] http://groups.drupal.org/node/9363
[8] http://drupal.org/node/219862
[9] http://groups.drupal.org/semantic-web
[10] http://groups.drupal.org/node/9311

Arto Bendiken | http://bendiken.net/
Received on Tuesday, 11 March 2008 07:48:42 UTC

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