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Statements about RDF (was: RDF Interface specification)

From: Robin Berjon <robin@berjon.com>
Date: Thu, 03 Jul 2014 12:20:29 +0200
Message-ID: <53B52E6D.8080207@berjon.com>
To: semantic-web@w3.org, Phil Archer <phila@w3.org>
CC: Nathan Rixham <nathan@webr3.org>, Adrian Gschwend <ml-ktk@netlabs.org>, bergi <bergi@axolotlfarm.org>, Manu Sporny <msporny@digitalbazaar.com>
Phil wrote:
> Leaving aside the fact that we're stretched to breaking point in terms
> of staff availability ... I'm looking for ways in which we could
> establish something like a Semantic Web (or Linked Data) Access Group -
> basically a group that defines a bucket full of stuff that means even
> arch anti-Linked Data people will find useful and attractive. Something
> that might bring SemWeb closer to Robin Berjon's vision
> (http://berjon.com/web-2024/). I don't agree with his statements about
> RDF, of course, but he's far from alone in his thinking.

I guess that's my cue to jump in :)

I know that the content in the post above has been characterised as 
dissing RDF. I'd like to underline the fact that that is not the case.

My comments and predictions are not technical, they are ecological. To 
put this differently, if it is 2.3 billion years ago and you are the 
meanest, badassest anaerobe on Earth, you can evolve multicellularity 
and even higher intelligence all you want, you're still going to die a 
horrible death when the cyanobacteria oxygenate everything.

This doesn't mean that I wish for RDF to die a horrible death, but the 
extrapolations I can make from the current ecosystem don't lead me to 
see it becoming a typical part of the Web platform. I could be wrong, I 
don't know everything, and there may be a tipping point. I will further 
note that "becoming a typical part of the Web platform" isn't the 
criteria for success for everything. For example, XML or XQuery have 
found their own large, successful niches (everything looks like a niche 
compared to the whole Web) and that's great.

The basis for my prediction stems from two observations: the vast, vast 
majority of Web publishers I meet have no idea that RDF (still) exists, 
let alone that it could do anything for them; conversely I don't see any 
movement (but I may have missed stuff) to use RDF in a way that solves a 
sizeable tract of the problems this crowd is facing today (or that I 
suspect will be facing soon). Putting these two observations together, 
RDF could be the best thing since endorphins and it would still not make 
it big.

Now, if I switch to a much more opinionated take I don't think that this 
is a fatality. I do not go into details in that post, but I do think 
that there are ways to make massive amounts of linked data emerge from 
the Web we have, primarily by making it vernacular through solving 
small, everyday paper-cut problems. The "Web Schema" thing I mention in 
that post is basically the semantic web freed from the shackles of the 
RDF data model :)

At any rate Phil, I'm heartily in favour of making semantics and data 
useful and attractive. If there's any way in which I can help, I'm more 
than happy to!

-- 
Robin Berjon - http://berjon.com/ - @robinberjon
Received on Thursday, 3 July 2014 10:20:55 UTC

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