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Primer - some comments

From: Graham Klyne <GK@NineByNine.org>
Date: Thu, 03 Jan 2002 17:51:03 +0000
Message-Id: <5.1.0.14.2.20020103165546.038bcc60@joy.songbird.com>
To: RDF core WG <w3c-rdfcore-wg@w3.org>
Folks,

Having taken a brief look at this, I have two general concerns with this 
document:
(a) it reads (in places) more like a sales brochure than a tutorial 
document.  Even though it's intended to provide an introduction to RDF, I 
don't think we should assume that the reader needs to be convinced of the 
virtues of RDF, or that the reader doesn't have some level of technical 
familiarity with Web technologies.
(b) it has a tendency to be too wordy in places.

I think it should focus more aggressively on explaining what RDF is and how 
to use it.

Having made these comments, I feel I should also offer some constructive 
suggestions.   I don't have time to go through the whole document in 
detail, but I'll make a start on the abstract and the introduction...


---

Abstract.

I suggest a re-write:

[[[
The Resource Description Framework (RDF) is a general purpose language for 
representing information in the World Wide Web, and in particular for 
representing metadata about Web resources (e.g. the title, author, 
modification date of a web page;  copyright and syndication information 
about a web document;  availability schedule for some shared 
resource;  description of a web user's preferences for information delivery).

This primer provides an introduction to the various features of RDF, and 
provides guidance and examples for using RDF with Web applications.
]]]

---

Introduction.

1st para.

"de-facto" is completely superfluous -- I suggest deleting it.

Should we focus so much on the metadata aspects of RDF?  I think not.  I 
think that many of the applications of RDF don't really fit into the "data 
about data" mould, so I suggest a more general approach, while 
acknowledging RDF's metadata heritage.

Suggest:
[[[
The Resource Description Framework (RDF) is a general purpose language for 
representing information in the World Wide Web, and in particular for 
representing metadata about Web resources (e.g. the title, author, 
modification date of a web page;  copyright and syndication information 
about a web document;  availability schedule for some shared 
resource;  description of a web user's preferences for information delivery).

RDF provides a common framework for expressing this information in such a 
way that it can be exchanged between applications without loss of 
meaning.  Being a common framework, application designers may leverage the 
availability of common RDF parsers and processing tools.  Exchanging 
information between different applications means that the it may be made 
available to applications other than those for which it was originally created.
]]]

2nd para.

Try to focus on the purpose of the primer.

I suggest:
[[[
This primer is intended to augment the RDF specifications (references), to 
help information system designers and application developers understand the 
features of RDF, and how to use them:
- What information can RDF represent?
- How does RDF represent information?
- What does RDF look like?
- How to create, access and process RDF information.
]]]

3rd paragraph (after the bullets): doesn't really have any useful 
content:  I suggest deleting it, and maybe adding another bullet to the 
preceding list:
[[[
- How to combine existing information with RDF.
]]]

4th para:  also doesn't really seem to say anything useful.  I suggest 
deleting it.

5th para:  this is introducing a 1st example of RDF;  I'd suggest putting 
this into a subsection, titled something like "A first look", and 
introducing the example with simply:
[[[
The following is a small chunk of RDF in the XML serialization format:
]]]

6th para:  delete the text "is just a representation of some simple data".
Delete the text "- the utility of which we shall explain later on -".

7th para:  The first sentence seems to be non-seqitur.  Machine processable 
format means it can be processed by machines, independently of whether 
information is linked across the web.  I think an opportunity to introduce 
a fundamental characteristic of RDF has been missed here.  I suggest:
[[[
Like hypertext, this form of information links pieces of data across the 
Web.  But more than hypertext, the links can also be to any identifiable 
thing, which may or may not be Web-based data, so that as well as 
describing Web pages we can also convey information about cars, businesses, 
people, news events, etc.  Further, the links can be labelled to indicate 
the kind of relationship that exists between the linked items.

These simple ideas form the basis for information representation using RDF.
]]]

8th para:  this seems superfluous here, and I suggest it be deleted.

---

Anyway, I think this illustrates the idea.  In a technical document, less 
is often more.  I think this applies as much, or even more, to a tutorial 
document as it does to a formal specification.

In my experience, it's far easier to start with a terse, underspecified 
description and add text to the point that it conveys the desired 
information, than to start with a wordy document and edit it down.

I think there's lots of great information in this primer, and more to 
come.  I offer my comments in the hope that the information can be made 
easier to find by its intended audience.

#g




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      /  \ \   (GK@ACM.ORG)
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Received on Thursday, 3 January 2002 12:54:31 EST

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