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Re: ODF and semantic web

From: Mark Birbeck <mark.birbeck@formsPlayer.com>
Date: Mon, 15 Oct 2007 11:12:07 +0100
Message-ID: <a707f8300710150312ke9a87adse2a882cdb123920e@mail.gmail.com>
To: "Ivan Herman" <ivan@w3.org>
Cc: "Elias Torres" <elias@torrez.us>, "Bruce D'Arcus" <bdarcus@gmail.com>, "Semantic Web" <semantic-web@w3.org>, "W3C RDFa task force" <public-rdf-in-xhtml-tf@w3.org>

Hi Ivan,

GRDDL is a necessary hack to allow legacy mark-up to be made
'semantic'. But I don't think anyone would seriously suggest that you
can build a 'semantic web' on such a flaky framework. Which means that
it's not a good idea to design languages on the basis that 'it doesn't
matter what I do, because I can always GRDDL it'.

So, I'm going to save my 'yey' for later. I'm hoping that there will
be some serious coordination on this issue, and anything less is a
missed opportunity.

It will be interesting to see if the two standards organisations can
rise to the challenge.

All the best,


On 15/10/2007, Ivan Herman <ivan@w3.org> wrote:
> Elias, Mark, Bruce, & al
> First of all: I think Elias is right. 'Our' (if one can define this
> 'our', which is not always easy) first reaction should be (and believe
> me, is!): yey! Having _some_ syntax to store RDF metadata in ODF _is_
> major and good news. In some ways, _what_ the exact serialization syntax
> is remains of a secondary importance as long as it is clearly defined
> and transformable (via GRDDL or anything else, although GRDDL comes to
> one's mind first) into other formats. So yes, yey!:-)
> As for Mark's concerns: yes, if RDFa could be used, that would be even
> better, because it would reduce the number of overlapping serializations
> and would therefore help in a quicker integration of ODF metadata into
> the SW world. It would be good _if_ it is possible and meets the
> constraints that ODF has. At this point, the obvious question and
> comment is: what can be done to help improve this? There are some
> (probably solvable) technical issues; and there are also 'social', ie,
> the 'how to do it?', 'where and how to comment?' part. I think Elias'
> and Bruce's advise on that would be really welcome. We can then try to
> take it from there...
> Sincerely
> Ivan
> Elias Torres wrote:
> >
> >
> >
> > 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>
> >>
> >>
> >
> --
> Ivan Herman, W3C Semantic Web Activity Lead
> Home: http://www.w3.org/People/Ivan/
> PGP Key: http://www.ivan-herman.net/pgpkey.html
> FOAF: http://www.ivan-herman.net/foaf.rdf

  Mark Birbeck, formsPlayer

  mark.birbeck@formsPlayer.com | +44 (0) 20 7689 9232
  http://www.formsPlayer.com | http://internet-apps.blogspot.com

  standards. innovation.
Received on Monday, 15 October 2007 10:22:18 UTC

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