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Re: Semantic Argument (Warning: Long Post)

From: Danny Ayers <danny.ayers@gmail.com>
Date: Sat, 13 Nov 2004 12:41:47 +0100
Message-ID: <1f2ed5cd041113034113595b37@mail.gmail.com>
To: Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>
Cc: Doug Schepers <doug@schepers.cc>, www-archive@w3.org

I wouldn't usually comment on discussion that goes to www-archive, and
apologies for butting in, but I believe there are significant
inaccuracies here.

On Sat, 13 Nov 2004 01:21:26 +0000 (UTC), Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch> wrote:

> > Let's let RDF and other ontological XML dialects do their job of
> > providing rich semantics
> 
> RDF, at least in its current state, has had basically zero uptake in
> the real world. RSS is the closest thing to a success that RDF has
> had, and no RSS viewers are implemented in terms of RSS. In fact, most
> RSS feeds aren't even well-formed XML. RSS has, in that sense, been as
> (un)successful as XHTML1.

I beg to differ. There is uptake of RDF (and OWL) in the real world.
It's not huge, but is growing (the same could probably be said about
SVG and MathML). There are several RSS viewers implemented in terms of
RDF. Several RSS applications actually rely on the richness offered by
RDF over plain-XML RSS.

It is quite possible that most feeds aren't well-formed XML, but that
is due mostly due to encoding issues as a result of the implementors
of XML processors paying little regard to RFC 3023. It's a problem
with XML on the Web, not RSS per se. Interpreted as standalone docs,
the vast majority of RSS is usable.

But this is really a side issue - it would be a mistake to judge RDF's
success in terms of the deployment of its interchange syntax.

> In fact, it isn't clear that there is a demand from actual Web authors
> for the detailed semantics that RDF can offer. Semantics are important
> when they improve communication -- RDF's level of semantics is great
> for inference-style data analysis, but it isn't clear that they
> actually improve communication.

RDF's hasn't really got a single level of semantics, that's part of
the whole layer-cake idea. It can be used as a simple data model.
Inferencing-style data analysis can come in many forms, it's not
peculiar to RDF - take the rules that govern the application of CSS.

Semantics are an inherent part of communication. Machine-readable
semantics can certainly improve communication. RSS may be a degenerate
sample of RDF, but feeds are still built around metadata expressing
semantics related to the content. The aggregator tool  takes advantage
of this to provide very effective communication. "Actual Web authors"
are nowadays producing these feeds.

Cheers,
Danny.

-- 

http://dannyayers.com
Received on Saturday, 13 November 2004 11:41:48 UTC

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