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Re: The need for RDF in Linked Data

From: Norman Gray <norman@astro.gla.ac.uk>
Date: Tue, 18 Jun 2013 10:58:15 +0100
Cc: semantic-web@w3.org
Message-Id: <9960CD3C-170E-40D0-AE47-EBBA3A1FA458@astro.gla.ac.uk>
To: David Booth <david@dbooth.org>

Greetings.

On 2013 Jun 17, at 06:26, David Booth wrote:

> If the term Linked Data is "hijacked" by a broader population to mean *any* sort of data that is linked -- not necessarily RDF -- then this will be a major loss to the Semantic Web community, because it is very hard to come up with simple ways to communicate the essence of the Semantic Web.  The Linked Data meme has been extremely helpful.  If the RDF component is lost, we will have lost the best meme we have ever had for explaining the Semantic Web.

Exactly this!

Short version: LD is SW propaganda -- it's more important that it be simple and consistent than that it be precise.

'Linked Data' is (clearly, to me) an explanation/practice/meme/movement rather than a precise technology, and I think it is a waste of time to obsess about a precise definition.

I've given a couple of lectures on 'the semantic web and linked data' to librarians/archivists/museum people.  They're interested^Wobsessed by structured information, but largely uninterested in technology as such.  They rather glaze when I talk about RDF and ontologies, but they _get_ Linked Data when I phrase it as 'the linked data web is the web for machines; it has the same good/bad/pragmatic sociotechnical features as the human-readable web, but because it's all RDF rather than all HTML, the machines can follow their noses just like we can on the human-readable web'.

Phrased like that, or something like it, they can imagine its use in their practice, and why it's important.  They get that the Semantic Web is this plus computing scientists.

I think that's a win, but it depends absolutely on being able to give a really clean description (as opposed to a definition) of what 'linked data' is, and I think it's vital that that description is consistent, and consistently simple, whenever they look around for other material about it.

Explaining that the RDF doesn't have to look much like RDF, and might even look like JSON, talking about underlying data models, and everything else, are all true; but they are technical details which should be avoided as irrelevant in most conversations about LD, and which are thus actively counterproductive.

Pat Hayes said:

>> If this turned out to be the case, I'd be somewhat confused, being left without a vocabulary term to describe RDF's underlying paradigm, and little if any differentiation between the terms Semantic Web and Linked Data.
> 
> Seems to me that being somewhat confused about the distinction between SWeb and LD is pretty normal. Maybe we should all agree to be slightly confused and be happy about that. 

Yes: anyone who implements a LD solution probably knows about the SW anyway, so the distinction doesn't much matter; anyone who isn't implementing something just needs the motivation, and so doesn't care about the distinction either.  So precision is less important than expository simplicity and consistency.

All the best,

Norman


-- 
Norman Gray  :  http://nxg.me.uk
SUPA School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Glasgow, UK
Received on Tuesday, 18 June 2013 09:58:45 UTC

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