W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > semantic-web@w3.org > October 2007

Re: ODF and semantic web

From: Elias Torres <elias@torrez.us>
Date: Sun, 14 Oct 2007 15:00:22 -0400
Message-ID: <47126746.2050200@torrez.us>
To: Mark Birbeck <mark.birbeck@formsPlayer.com>
CC: Bruce D'Arcus <bdarcus@gmail.com>, Semantic Web <semantic-web@w3.org>, W3C RDFa task force <public-rdf-in-xhtml-tf@w3.org>

Mark Birbeck wrote:
> Hi Bruce,
>> I've mentioned this here before, but more on RDF-in-OpenDocument.
>> <http://www.robweir.com/blog/2007/10/odf-enters-semantic-web.html>
>> The OpenOffice project is now starting to looking into implementing it,
>> so people here might be interested.
> I note that the attributes used in ODF are 'inspired' by RDFa [1]--but
> why not just incorporate RDFa as is?

First reason is because RDFa is still not finished, published, 
recommended etc. We are currently working on a XHTML 1.1 module and that 
I know of there's no work in progress for a recommendation on how to 
host RDFa in other XML languages. I understand that you have 
ideas/vision/plans, but just like every other standards group or task 
force, you can't depend on too many working drafts/vision/plan unless 
deadlines are of no concern. This is a very common practice at the W3C 
as well, so I hope that's enough for you to understand why we couldn't 
embed RDFa as is.

Secondly, we are just getting to a point of good coverage of the issues 
that surround adding metadata to XHTML, but unfortunately, although you 
might see very little differences between XHTML and any other XML 
vocabulary, there's a lot of things to both work out and build from 
scratch in some XML vocabularies where something as basic as the 
document location/hyperlink not being defined as it's the case for ODF.

I think we are too critical when we make these statements especially 
when I indicated many times in our calls that I was involved in this 
work and I didn't hear anyone volunteering to help. For example, several 
times I went as far as asking you personally for suggestions in some 
aspects of the RDFa spec before it was even brought up to the RDFa task 
force for sake of progress in the ODF metadata specification. 
Unfortunately, the task forces were working in parallel and it just 
wasn't feasible to combine both groups, learn each others requirements 
and deliver a single document. I wish things were as simple as me 
saying: hey guys let's use the RDFa spec from the W3C and put an 
OASIS/ODF rubber stamp on it and everyone just said: great, let's do that.

> It's especailly confusing for authors when this 'inpiration' seems to
> involve copying some RDFa attributes, but changing the names of
> others. For example, @about is used, but @datatype has been renamed to
> @data-type!

I would first hope that there's no a problem with us getting 
inspiration/copying the RDFa attributes. It was a long and arduous 
process to get where we are today. Bruce and I put in a LOT of time and 
patience until the group passed from storming to performing. 
Svante/Patrick put in an amazing effort with the documents (very similar 
to what you have done with the RDFa documents). We are now a 
happy/loving bunch and Bruce and I are grateful to our colleagues for 
putting up enough with us to the point that they now share our vision 
for metadata in office applications. It really took a lot of listening 
on their part for us to share everything we thought was great about the 
RDFa work. The ODF Metadata group was so much more welcoming to our 
perspective as opposed to other non-SW bred groups and us arguing about 
'dash' felt to me disrespectful, if not rude.

> This lack of alignment is a shame, especially when the proponents of
> ODF are generally critical of the confusion that can be caused by
> companies and organisations pursuing alternate document formats. There
> is a fantastic opportunity here for creating tools and search engines
> that could leverage a 'standard' way of incorporating metadata into
> HTML, XHTML, ODF, and other mark-up languages. That opportunity now
> looks like it is going to be missed.

I'm not as intimate with the ODF organization, but I would not confuse 
this sub-committee/task force with the rest of the organization. 
Besides, I think the issues surrounding OOXML and ODF are orthogonal to 
what you claim is happening in this 'divergence' of formats. Of course, 
I believe that there's a fantastic opportunity here for creating tools 
and blah blah into HTML, XHTML, ODF, etc. But please don't blame us for 
the fact that not everyone in the world wants to adhere to our 
views/technology of the Semantic Web. I think that this 'standard' way 
of thinking has hurt us more than helped to reach the goal. I totally 
disagree that one parser will  be capable to address the issues of 
metadata in ODF vs HTML. I caught myself making those arguments to later 
change my mind and understand that in the end it's just code that gets 
written and overwritten every other day, but a consensus to work 
together as individuals and put our differences aside is much harder to 
develop, no pun intended.

We were hoping to receive a warm welcome for the work we put into the 
ODF Metadata for the purpose of advancing the Semantic Web, but as 
always, you can't please everyone. Fortunately, I still believe ODF 
Metadata + RDF/XML is making the case for extensibility, flexibility, 
linked data, openness and so on, independently of whether we used the 
same parser or not. We need to keep examining ourselves in the likes of 
Bijan [1] so we assess what are the real problems hindering progress on 
the Web by our standards and do more showing/telling and 
implementation/adoption before rushing to standardizing. At least I 
partially felt that way with ODF Metadata and towards the end of the 
first draft, I agreed that less was better given that this was the first 
introduction of RDF to the ODF world. Look at Mozilla for example and I 
hope that we start small and prove the value before forcing things 
without immediate benefits.

DISCLAIMER: At the risk of sounding schizo, here it goes. Mark, you know 
we are cool and I'm not at all targeting everything towards you only but 
to the larger community. We are colleagues, have been working together 
for a while now and share a lot in common when it comes to RDFa, but I 
had been meaning to reply to Bijan's email and vent a little on some of 
the issues surrounding many groups/technologies on the W3C and you had 
to push me over the edge :D

[1] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/semantic-web/2007Oct/0039.html

> Regards,
> Mark
> [1] <http://www.oasis-open.org/committees/download.php/25055/Metadata_22August2007.txt>
Received on Sunday, 14 October 2007 19:00:35 UTC

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