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Re: swig telecons?

From: Dan Brickley <danbri@danbri.org>
Date: Tue, 30 Mar 2010 15:21:55 +0200
Message-ID: <eb19f3361003300621y68ed26bj52b52c8423f0213e@mail.gmail.com>
To: Sandro Hawke <sandro@w3.org>
Cc: semantic-web@w3.org
On Tue, Mar 30, 2010 at 1:54 PM, Sandro Hawke <sandro@w3.org> wrote:
>
> If we started having regular Semantic Web Interest Group telecons, would
> you attend?   What would you expect/hope to get out of it?

We did reserve the right to do this in the charter, a while back, but
my take is that telephony isn't really the answer. What I feel is
missing (despite the *millions*) that has been thrown at the Semantic
Web brand, is the boring slog of getting the base tools and software
polished. It's still too hard to get started solving practical
problems with RDF, and for fairly uninteresting reasons. Big EU
research grants don't easily get awarded for "help polish, package,
test, transliterate and integrate RDF tools". Startups and corporates
don't always find it easy to prioritise such activities either. And so
we potter along, 13+ years into the RDF experiment, 'too big to fail'
but (I sometimes fear) too slow to really seize the moment. Data is
the flavour of the moment in the wider tech scene, but RDF is still
too annoying to work with for many smart people.

What I would value, is collaboration around getting tools into a
situation where we can say "OK, a basic RDF toolkit will give you
SPARQL vx, RDF/XML parsing, N3, GRDDL, RDFa, such-n-so .API, such-n-so
OWL-ish stuff, such-n-so storage options, ...", and then point to a
set of options for C, Python, Ruby, Java, Objective-C, C#, Prolog, etc
etc. backed up by test cases, clear license statements, ... and
packaged for Ubuntu and all the rest. Much of this stuff is nearly
done, some tools are better packaged than others, but there's a hell
of a lot out there in half-finished state and it makes things tough
for newcomers to the scene who are just trying to get a job done.

W3C's classic strengths are in defining standards rather than managing
their deployment. On a good day 'the market' handles that. But
sometimes markets need a helping hand. RDF's strength is that it is
allows different groups to go about their data-creating business
without needing heavy coordination. The downside might be related:
things can easily end up a bit scattered. I think RDF's appeal will
always rest with data, that we are fundamentally a community who are
concerned with sharing, mixing and connecting data. The actual RDF
technical stuff is as some put it sometimes a 'tax', but it is also
the only way I know to date of doing this kind of data-mixing on a
global scale...

I didn't write a position paper for the RDF Future W/shop (yet), but I
think in a nutshell my opinion is: don't expect new standards to be
the answer. This can be difficult for W3C since all the organization's
momentum is around being a machine for generating standards. I think
collecting wishlists and draft project plans around tooling would be a
good next step...

cheers,

Dan
Received on Tuesday, 30 March 2010 13:22:28 GMT

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