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Issue #pfps-15 Can RDF say anything about anything?

From: Brian McBride <bwm@hplb.hpl.hp.com>
Date: Tue, 18 Feb 2003 14:45:30 +0000
Message-Id: <5.1.0.14.0.20030218140635.032aeff8@localhost>
To: Frank Manola <fmanola@mitre.org>, "Peter F. Patel-Schneider" <pfps@research.bell-labs.com>
Cc: www-rdf-comments@w3.org

At 11:14 17/02/2003 -0500, Frank Manola wrote:
>Peter--
>
>It seems to me this issue is similar to the one about meaning, in the 
>sense that, since it has general applicability, it needs treatment beyond 
>the Primer.  Can you identify the other documents to which you believe 
>this applies as well?
>
>Brian, can we have an issue number for this, please?

First of all can I suggest an editorial change removing "without loss of 
meaning" in

[[
RDF provides a common framework for expressing this information so it can 
be exchanged between applications without loss of meaning.
]]

in the primer abstract and introduction.  I think this is a claim that 
Peter objected to and it seems it could be dropped without harm.

We need to be clear about what the issue is that we are identifying.

The issue

   http://www.w3.org/2001/sw/RDFCore/20030123-issues/#pfps-15

concerns the sentence in the primer:

[[
These examples also illustrate one of the basic architectural principles of 
the Web, which is that anyone should be able say anything they want about 
existing resources [BERNERS-LEE98].
]]

which Peter states is contradicted by the fact that not all graphs can be 
serialized in RDF/XML.

   http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-rdf-comments/2003JanMar/0194.html

Frank has suggested editorial rewording that is not acceptable to Peter.

This is not an issue of general applicability'.

I don't think the WG can do much with general statements such as:

[[
I find this a general problem with the RDF documents.  A lofty principle is
stated, such as ``say anything ...'' or ``expressing information
... without loss of meaning'', but RDF doesn't even come close to the
principle.
]]

or

[[
If the RDF documents were not liberally sprinkled with this sort of
overreaching allusions, ...
]]

Brian






>--Frank
>
>
>Peter F. Patel-Schneider wrote:
>
>>From: Frank Manola <fmanola@mitre.org>
>>Subject: Re: Can RDF say anything about anything?
>>Date: Mon, 17 Feb 2003 10:27:52 -0500
>>
>>>Peter F. Patel-Schneider wrote:
>>>
>>>
>>>>From: Frank Manola <fmanola@mitre.org>
>>>>Subject: Re: Can RDF say anything about anything?
>>>>Date: Thu, 13 Feb 2003 14:38:07 -0500
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>>Peter--
>>>>>
>>>>>Thanks for this comment.  Regarding the situation you bring up, the
>>>>>Primer at that point says:
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>>These examples also illustrate one of the basic architectural 
>>>>>>principles of the Web, which is that anyone should be able say 
>>>>>>anything they want
>>>>>>about existing resources [BERNERS-LEE98].
>>>>>[BTW:  If nothing else, you've enabled me to spot a missing "to" in the
>>>>>sentence.  Thanks!]
>>>>>
>>>>>Specifically, the examples illustrate an independent party commenting on
>>>>>a description produced by someone else.  That (roughly) "anyone should
>>>>>be able to say anything about anything" is being cited as an
>>>>>architectural principle of the Web illustrated by the examples, not as a
>>>>>capability of RDF (and certainly not without exceptions).  I frankly
>>>>>find it hard to see anyone reading this, and being led to believe that
>>>>>they can then make RDF statements that violate RDF/XML (e.g., using
>>>>>rdf:ID as a predicate was one of the examples that came up in your
>>>>>interaction with Brian).  Of course, being able to "say anything about
>>>>>anything" provides the ability to state lies and nonsense (e.g., you
>>>>>could say rdf:ID rdf:type ex:MooCow), but we can't really prevent 
>>>>>that. Do you see a particular clarification that would help, such as a caveat
>>>>>here that there are technical limits to RDF's ability to express things?
>>>>>
>>>>>--Frank
>>>>>
>>>>Either RDF is able to ``say anything [...] about existing
>>>>resources'', in which case the sentence is germane, or it isn't, in which
>>>>case the sentence is irrelevant or misleading.  If RDF doesn't satisfy the
>>>>principle then there is no reason to keep the allusion.
>>>>
>>>>I find this a general problem with the RDF documents.  A lofty principle is
>>>>stated, such as ``say anything ...'' or ``expressing information
>>>>... without loss of meaning'', but RDF doesn't even come close to the
>>>>principle.
>>>>
>>>
>>>Peter--
>>>
>>>I understand your concern, but at the same time what you suggest ("If 
>>>RDF doesn't satisfy the principle then there is no reason to keep the 
>>>allusion") seems awfully black and white.
>>I had thought that specifications, and the Primer is part of the RDF
>>specification, if only an informative one, were about ``black and white''.
>>If someone wants to write a paper on RDF, then it might be reasonable to
>>make these sorts of allusions, but I just don't see their place in an
>>official document on RDF.
>>
>>>It seems to me reasonable to be able to state the principle, even when 
>>>we can't totally achieve it (and of course, RDF is not alone in not 
>>>coming close to this principle in reality).   I agree, though, that an 
>>>*uncaveated* statement of this principle could be misleading.  What 
>>>about adding the caveat that I mentioned, that there that there are 
>>>technical limits to RDF's ability to express things?
>>>
>>>--Frank
>>If the RDF documents were not liberally sprinkled with this sort of
>>overreaching allusions, then I might be satisfied with this approach.
>>However, fixing one instance of this general problem is not going to
>>eliminate the impression that RDF is much more than it actually is.
>>peter
>
>
>--
>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 Tuesday, 18 February 2003 09:44:29 GMT

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