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Re: RDF An opportunity

From: Tom Van Eetvelde <tom.van_eetvelde@alcatel.be>
Date: Fri, 06 Oct 2000 18:36:59 +0200
Message-ID: <39DDFFAB.97160643@alcatel.be>
To: Sankar Virdhagriswaran <sv@hunchuen.crystaliz.com>
CC: Craig Pugsley <craig.pugsley@mimesweeper.com>, "'Betsy Skillings'" <BSKILLINGS@llbean.com>, www-rdf-interest@w3.org
My dear Sankar,

Sorry to say so, but it happens to be that certain things in the world are complex and can only be
understood by some experts. If it wasn't for these people, you wouldn't be driving a car now for
example. A car is a complicated device, just by the cheer fact that lots of people could not build
one. Does that mean that cars are not to be used? Wrong! Just provide an easy to understand manual
on how to use this machine. No need to go into the details of the internal working.

Now back to RDF. The core RDF model (using tripples) is extremely easy. Any kid can associate 2
entities and name the association. Kids tend to say: 'I like mum". Well kid, you just made a tripple
here! We only have to make people realize that we are constantly thinking in tripples without even
realizing it! If you draw all these triples on paper, they will get connected with each other and
you get a graph.

It is very important that we humans start learning to think graphically. The RDF model is just a
hardcopy of your brain's neural network. Studies have already proven that humans are creatures that
store knowledge via associations. Tripples are a form of association. That's how we function. Could
it be more natural to model data via a mechanism that we got from mother nature?

You say that graphical user interfaces are just to hide the 'ugly' syntax. I couldn't disaggree
more. The graphical picture is what can really boost RDF to success! A picture says more than 1000
lines of text!

It is time that we start modelling the world in a graphical way because this is how we function!
Anyone who tells me that RDF is too complex denies his own brain mechanisms. As we say in Belgium:
"Knowing yourselve is the start towards wisdom"...



P.S. There are people who, independantly from RDF, are launching a promo campaign to get people
thinking graphically. Surf to


I think this speaks for itself (and definitely in favor of RDF).

Sankar Virdhagriswaran wrote:

> This is a soap box. Please ignore if you don't like reading soapbox
> pronouncements. Apologies to people who I may be offending.
> I don't know how many times I have said the same thing over and over again.
> But, it is worth repeating.
> When this email list was started, one of the goals was to 'simplify RDF'. To
> a lot of RDF experts, this meant one of two things : simplify the syntax and
> simplify the RDF model so that it can layer more and more sophisticated
> modeling. A third thing got added to the discussion later: we have bad
> syntax, so let us put a GUI to hide the syntax.
> In my opinion, all of these *will not* make RDF simple to use.
> What will make RDF simple to use is a brain damaged simple model that
> majority of the folks who have some modeling experience can understand.
> Sorry, first order predicate logic is not it. Sorry, an object system that
> is built on top of first order predicate logic is not it. And, sorry, having
> a UI on top of all this not it either.
> Just look at the existing markets to see why this is the case. Can you tell
> me the market size of entity-relationship modeling tools vs. object modeling
> (as in UML) vs. knowledge modeling tools. The last is close to $0. People go
> from what they know. The Web spread because one had latex documents and Word
> documents one could convert in a jiffy and put it on a site. Initially, the
> effort to understand and use the Web was close to zero for most authors.
> Knowledge acquisition and modeling are infinitely more difficult tasks. The
> largest number of models out there are entity-relationship models. Let us
> start there.
> I don't have sympathy with the arguement that says entity-relationship
> models *can be* represented in RDF. That is not the point. Imagine this
> analogy. When the web started out, if some one came in said for presentation
> use XSL or XHTML and for data use XML, how many people would have done this.
> Not only did very few people have documents that could mapped into these
> separte 'renderings' (as compared to Latex to HTML or Word to HTML), but
> even fewer understood the separation of content from presentation (notice
> what happened to SGML which had made that point for a long time).
> We are doing some thing very analogus with RDF. RDF is simply too
> complicated, too general, too abstract for most people to grasp and use.
> Sorry, I feel that the world would be a better place if standards such as
> RDF are used by the 'people' rather than a standard that only a few high
> powered logicians or knowledge engineers can understand and use.
> Sankar

Received on Friday, 6 October 2000 12:39:24 UTC

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