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Re: Normative vs Informative

From: Mo McRoberts <mo.mcroberts@bbc.co.uk>
Date: Mon, 28 Nov 2011 19:56:10 +0000
Cc: <public-xg-webid@w3.org>
Message-Id: <3B8455F8-3E0F-4596-8599-1744A622B3ED@bbc.co.uk>
To: Kingsley Idehen <kidehen@openlinksw.com>

On 28 Nov 2011, at 17:17, Kingsley Idehen wrote:
> 
> People should be allowed to comprehend what WebID and the WebID protocol are about without any Syntax oriented distractions. That's how to best engage a broad audience of evangelists, developers, and end-users. People can be political about RDF but far less so about the important issue of verifiable identity and privacy at InterWeb scales.

Perhaps I’m misunderstanding the intent of this statement, however:—

People should be allowed to read a spec and know _exactly_ what they need to implement in order to have a working system. Specs which leave lots of things unspecified, or say “you can use anything kinda like this” aren’t specs at all, they’re just background papers. Sure, expand them over time, provide some narrative indicating future direction (“in principle anything taking the form <x> will work; at this stage they’re not part of the specification but in future editions may well be”), but you need to start with a concrete basis or nobody will ever implement anything that interoperates with anything else.

The syntax is important, because people need to write code, or select libraries containing code written by other people, which handle the syntax in order to make the stuff WORK. “X.509 subjectAltName pointing at a profile document containing cert ontology statements mirroring the public key expressed as RDF/XML or RDFa 1.1” is implementable in a interoperable fashion (assuming “pointing at” and behaviours are specified) because it's pretty concrete and easy to understand irrespective of whether you buy into the Semantic Web vision or not.

Get version 1.0 or 0.1 or 2011 or whatever it is out of the door and get some of that “multiple compatible implementations” love going and _then_ worry about whether it’s too limiting. If you want to include a non-normative paragraph about how you could express the WebID profile information in any one of a hundred different forms, only some of which are RDF-related, I’m pretty sure Henry is open to patches.

M.

-- 
Mo McRoberts - Technical Lead - The Space,
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Received on Monday, 28 November 2011 19:56:38 GMT

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