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Re: Comment on the concepts document

From: Frank Manola <fmanola@mitre.org>
Date: Mon, 14 Oct 2002 20:26:43 -0400
Message-ID: <3DAB60C3.8020102@mitre.org>
To: Graham Klyne <Graham.Klyne@mimesweeper.com>
CC: Jeremy Carroll <jjc@hplb.hpl.hp.com>, RDF core WG <w3c-rdfcore-wg@w3.org>

Graham--

OK, we have progress on a couple of fronts:

1.  I think my concerns about the mime type business are now put to rest 
(at least as far as this section of the concepts document is concerned!).

2.  I think we're communicating on the nature of the problem with 
sections 2.3.1 and 2.3.2.

However, I don't think your suggested wording change below deals with it 
adequately.  I agree with you on not letting "the prose get bogged down 
here".  That's why my suggested changes were all in 2.3.2.  What you've 
suggested is to change "assertion" to "claim" in 2.3.1 (but still 
describing RDF as a "simple assertional language").  However, following 
that, the first sentence in 2.3.2 seems to suggest that "claim" and 
"assertion" are pretty much synonymous, and we're still faced with an 
apparent contradiction when we encounter the end of the second paragraph 
of 2.3.2, in which we "distinguish assertions from other uses [of RDF]."

I think the mischief is done by not *immediately*, at the beginning of 
section 2.3.2, pointing out that there is a difference between 
understanding an RDF statement as an "assertion" in a formal sense as 
described in section 2.3.1 (which after all, is about formal semantics) 
and understanding an RDF statement as an "assertion" in its social 
meaning (the subject of section 2.3.2).  This is why I tried to clarify 
this distinction right away in my suggested change;  the word 
"assertion" is being used in two somewhat different senses.  I agree 
that it's important to make the point that RDF can be used to make 
honest-to-goodness "assertions" (of fact) in the generally-understood 
sense of "assertion".  However, it ought to be equally clear (and before 
we use the word "assertion" too many times in section 2.3.2) that some 
"assertions" [sense 1, from section 2.3.1] are not "assertions" [sense 
2].  If this distinction is made right away, I think the rest of the 
points being made in this section become much clearer.

--Frank

Graham Klyne wrote:

> At 11:28 AM 10/14/02 -0400, Frank Manola wrote:
> 
>> Please refer to
>>
>> http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/w3c-rdfcore-wg/2002Aug/0226.html
>>
>> as the issue raised there still exists in the subject document.
> 
> 
> OK, I think I see the problem.  In addressing the peripheral issues, I 
> overlooked the headline comment...
> 
> Section 2.3.1 has:
> [[
> The RDF model theory treats RDF as a simple assertional language, in 
> which each triple makes a distinct assertion, and the meaning of any 
> triple is not changed by adding other triples. Based on the semantics 
> defined in the model theory, it is simple to translate an RDF graph into 
> a logical expression with essentially the same meaning.
> ]]
> 
> 
> And section 2.3.2 has:
> [[
> RDF/XML documents, i.e. encodings of RDF graphs, can be used to make 
> representations of claims or assertions about the 'real' world.
> 
> When an RDF graph is asserted in the web, its publisher is saying 
> something about their view of the world. Such an assertion should be 
> understood to carry the same social import and responsibilities as an 
> assertion in any other format. A combination of social (e.g. legal) and 
> technical machinery (protocols, file formats, publication frameworks) 
> provide the contexts that fix the intended meanings of the vocabulary of 
> some piece of RDF, and which distinguish assertions from other uses 
> (e.g. citations, denals or illustrations).
> ]]
> 
> 
> The problem seems to be that 2.3.1 seems to suggest that the triples 
> cannot be expressed without being asserted.  I really don't want to let 
> the prose get bogged down here.  Does this work for you:
> [[
> The RDF model theory treats RDF as a simple assertional language, in 
> which each triple makes a distinct claim, and the meaning of any triple 
> is not changed by adding other triples. Based on the semantics defined 
> in the model theory, it is simple to translate an RDF graph into a 
> logical expression with essentially the same meaning.
> ]]
> 
> #g
> 
> 
> -------------------
> Graham Klyne
> <GK@NineByNine.org>
> 


-- 
Frank Manola                   The MITRE Corporation
202 Burlington Road, MS A345   Bedford, MA 01730-1420
mailto:fmanola@mitre.org       voice: 781-271-8147   FAX: 781-271-875
Received on Monday, 14 October 2002 20:14:43 EDT

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