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Re: Semantic Web Languages

From: John F. Sowa <sowa@bestweb.net>
Date: Fri, 31 Mar 2006 13:58:27 -0800
Message-ID: <442DA603.3050304@bestweb.net>
To: Danny Ayers <danny.ayers@gmail.com>
CC: "tim.glover@bt.com" <tim.glover@bt.com>, semantic-web@w3.org

Danny,

I don't violently disagree with anything you said, but I
do have some quibbles and a couple of extra points:

 > One of my dayjob contracts requires a kind of validation
 > outside of RDF/OWL, this I'm implementing using custom
 > (mostly hard-coded) logic on top of the RDF/OWL representation.
 > ... Throughout this work I'm mixing and matching numerous
 > RDFS vocabularies/OWL ontologies as demanded by the domain.

I realize that many people have been doing useful work with RDF
and OWL, and since nothing better is widely available, people
have to live with what they've been given.  But I believe that
anything that has been done with RDF could have been done sooner,
better, and with much greater efficiency with an XML tag that
says LANG=TupleList followed by an enclosed list of tuples in
the form (and with the option of n-ary tuples as well):

    (R1 a b) (R2 c d) (R3 e f) (R4 g h) ...

I agree that taste is hard to quantify, but when the designer
of a language apologizes for his mistakes, that should be a
serious warning sign:

    http://www.tbray.org/ongoing/When/200x/2003/05/21/RDFNet

For a more recent interview with Tim Bray (2005), see

http://www.acmqueue.com/modules.php?name=Content&pa=printer_friendly&pid=282&page=3

For a set of slides, by Mark Butler (which were endorsed by Tim B.),
see

    http://www.hpl.hp.com/personal/marbut/isTheSemanticWebHype.pdf

In a preface to those slides, Mark said that SPARQL combined
with RDF has proved to be more successful than Xpath with just
XML.  However, the same could have been said about SPARQL (or
even plain SQL) combined with tuple lists with the syntax above
-- and probably with a major improvement in both space and time.

 > The layering of the framework allows me to do all this in a
 > Web-friendly, consistent fashion. If this isn't modular, I
 > don't know what is.

But you can get just as much web friendliness and just as much
or more modularity with XML tags that say LANG=xxx.  As Unix has
demonstrated, it is possible to have an extremely modular system
that supports any kind of language or any kind of GUI anyone might
want -- without enforcing any constraints on syntax.

John
Received on Friday, 31 March 2006 22:02:13 UTC

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