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

From: Brian McBride <bwm@hplb.hpl.hp.com>
Date: Tue, 18 Feb 2003 18:07:26 +0000
Message-Id: <5.1.0.14.0.20030218180707.07409680@localhost>
To: Frank Manola <fmanola@mitre.org>
Cc: "Peter F. Patel-Schneider" <pfps@research.bell-labs.com>, www-rdf-comments@w3.org

At 10:52 18/02/2003 -0500, Frank Manola wrote:
>Brian--
>
>A few interspersed comments below.  Also, the "Say anything quote" link to 
>the original message on the Issues page is broken.

Link fixed: emacs glitch.  I'll get to the other comments tomorrow.

Brian


>--Frank
>
>Brian McBride wrote:
>
>>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.
>
>
>I agree we need to be clear about this issue, and I'll be happy to remove 
>that phrase.  However, as further clarification, could you (Brian) or 
>Peter point me to where Peter has objected to that?  My impression was 
>that Peter had concerns about our documents (not just this place in the 
>Primer) being very clear as to what the "meaning" actually was (that is, 
>being clear about the meaning that can literally be described by RDF, 
>versus the "social meaning" or added meaning that people may attach to it, 
>by convention or otherwise).  Given that we're clear about the "meaning" 
>we're talking about (and maybe we can't be at this point), it would appear 
>that the "RDF meaning" should be exchangable between applications without 
>loss, while "social" or "conventional" meanings might very well be lost 
>(if the receiving application hasn't been programmed with those meanings 
>independently of what it receives in the RDF).
>
>
>>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'.
>
>
>OK:  just Primer and Concepts then.
>
>
>>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, ...
>>]]
>
>
>Agreed.
>
>
>>
>>
>>>--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
>
>
>--
>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 13:06:21 GMT

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