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Re: Deprecate http://www.w3.org/1999/02/22-rdf-syntax-ns# in favour of /ns/rdf# ??

From: Dan Brickley <danbri@danbri.org>
Date: Fri, 29 Nov 2013 11:00:45 +0000
Message-ID: <CAFfrAFrN5hXaUdYunfYG7GMz=CW-63t4bRHeFnUXP9Av7EmHaw@mail.gmail.com>
To: Bernard Vatant <bernard.vatant@mondeca.com>, Phil Archer <phila@w3.org>
Cc: Richard Cyganiak <richard@cyganiak.de>, SW-forum Web <semantic-web@w3.org>
On 29 November 2013 09:53, Bernard Vatant <bernard.vatant@mondeca.com> wrote:
> Dear all
> Of course changing W3C RDF namespaces is a silly idea, for all the reasons
> written by sensible people before.
> I would add two things, and answer to Richard's arguments.
> - The RDFa core initial context is an effort by W3C to define default
> prefixes which allow most users to ignore the very URI and remember only
> prefixes.
> - The historical namespaces contain history embedded in URIs in the form of
> dates, and that's make RDF look like it is : a language, with embedded
> history. Would you change "anthropophagy" to "maneating" because it's
> simpler :)
>
>
> 2013/11/29 Richard Cyganiak <richard@cyganiak.de>
>>
>>
>> On 28 Nov 2013, at 23:10, "Charles McCathie Nevile"
>> <chaals@yandex-team.ru> wrote:
>> But I object to the idea of using schema.org - among other things, using a
>> namespace rooted in a domain you don't control is a terrible idea.
>
>
>>
>> I control neither schema.org nor w3.org, so by that logic using either is
>> a terrible idea.
>
>
> Well, I suppose what Charles meant by *you* is that *W3C* (and not him or
> you or me), controls w3.org but not schema.org. W3C has a clear and explicit
> engagement for stability of URIs, versioning policy etc, it's a standard
> body with a public process. schema.org is controlled by a consortium of
> private actors, has no versioning policy, and terms and conditions are clear
> that there is no guarantee of stability of the vocabulary and related
> services. The whole thing can disappear tomorrow if Google and al. decide
> so, and you won't have anything to say, it's written in the terms and
> conditions.
> Compare ...
> http://schema.org/docs/terms.html
> "We may modify or terminate the Website, for any reason, and without notice.
> We also reserve the right to modify these Terms of Service from time to time
> without notice, and you expressly agree to be bound by such modifications
> when posted on the Website."
>
> http://www.w3.org/Consortium/Persistence.html
> "... the World Wide Web Consortium hosts (MIT, ERCIM and Keio University)
> make the following pledge: that as far as they are able, for resources on
> the www.w3.org Web site which are declared (see below) to be persistent ..."

Having had a foot in both organizations, my 2 eurocents.

W3C is the right place to define RDF, RDFS, OWL etc. The schema.org
project aims to make these ideas more accessible to mainstream
publishers, webmasters, developers in a way that helps them solve
problems they care about.

The RDF and Semantic Web community are super-prone to angst about
wider the adoptability of our work. Periodically there will be a
gigantic navelgazing thread here or nearby, wondering whether
promoting RDF is something like advocating for betamax while the
masses turn to VHS (aka XML, JSON or CSV). FOAF was partly a reaction
against those kinds of discussions back in 2000:
http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-rdf-interest/2000Feb/ ...
Hopefully after schema.org, we won't have to keep asking over and over
"when will see RDF vocabularies on ordinary Web sites?". It's done.
RDF got deployed. Everyone take a bow. Adoption is a big part of
preservation.

The vast majority of people adopting via schema.org won't be thinking
a lot about RDF, classes, properties, ranges, domains or whatever. A
few of those notions are reflected into the schema.org vocabulary so
that it can be documented within an integrated system, but they are
mostly topics of interest to experts.

As to how long the schema.org and W3C sites will last, who can tell?

Also worth noting is that
http://www.w3.org/Consortium/Persistence.html ends with the text
<p>W3C Director, 1999/@@@draft</p>.  Did MIT/ERCIM/Keio ever formally
sign this 13 year old draft? In 1999 W3C was hosted by INRIA, not
ERCIM - http://www.ercim.eu/publication/Ercim_News/enw52/ercim-w3c.html
didn't happen until 2003.

Yes, http://schema.org/docs/terms.html has the air of corporate
lawyers about it. Remember that when it was written, schema.org was
un-used by anybody, and it was entirely feasible that nobody would
adopt it --- in which case, shutting down the project could've made a
lot of sense. Now it is on 5+ million sites. The team behind
schema.org are serious about persistence, and there have been
conversations with W3C staff on this, but nothing final to report yet.

My estimation is that both sites will still be on the Web in 50+ years
time. But who knows - peak oil, comets, climate change, the great
quantum-bitcoin crash of 2043, ... we can only speculate what the
future holds.

W3C's publication and preservation strategy (all Web technologies
defined on one site and Internet domain) means that it is relatively
hard to plan for active maintenance of specific areas of that site,
unless the organization also continues in something like its current
(large human staff) form. Our present conversation here shows that it
is far from trivial for W3C (or its nominated successors) to figure
out when it is appropriate to change something, even with fulltime
staff and active community engagement. Even  "Semantic Web" people can
be divided on what to do with "their" area of w3.org's namespace, e.g.
changes to the core RDF that are OK for most in the OWL/RIF community
might be resisted by others whose focus is Linked Data, SPARQL etc.
Consider also that any future maintainers of w3.org need to deal with
MathML, SVG, HTML, XForms etc., all of which might have active
communities asking for document updates in the future. The schema.org
approach (a much smaller site that solves roughly one problem)
certainly has its own challenges, but my estimate is that if either
site survives 50 years, it might be slightly more likely that
schema.org is actively maintained rather than preserved but frozen.

But it's not a competition. The most critical component of a long term
site preservation policy is not just having a persistence policy
document, it is having a lot of people who are using the
site/specs/technology  and care about its continuing availability,
documentation and relevance. On this count, both W3C and schema.org
are in a fairly healthy place. Also, talking of community groups, let
me plug the Web History CG, http://www.w3.org/community/webhistory/
where you can find others interested in making sure the history of the
Web and its standards is kept alive.

cheers,

Dan
Received on Friday, 29 November 2013 11:01:17 UTC

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