W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-rdf-interest@w3.org > April 2001

Re: N3 contexts vs RDF reification

From: Murray Altheim <altheim@eng.sun.com>
Date: Fri, 27 Apr 2001 09:04:51 -0700
Message-ID: <3AE998A3.F6C7569A@eng.sun.com>
To: Seth Russell <seth@robustai.net>
CC: Lee Jonas <lee.jonas@cakehouse.co.uk>, RDF-IG <www-rdf-interest@w3.org>, Tim Berners-Lee <timbl@w3.org>, Guha <guha@alpiri.com>, pat hayes <phayes@ai.uwf.edu>
Seth Russell wrote:
> From: "Lee Jonas" <lee.jonas@cakehouse.co.uk>
> > Although these all seem valid points, I think we are talking at
> > cross-purposes here.  I am refering to the number of tuples generated
> > by an RDF parser, whereas you are refering to the number and size of
> > records stored.  Both are valid concerns.
> I agree.  Actually, in the external communications there ~should be no~
> distinction,  this should be left to the choice of the implementor of a
> internal data structure.
> To help make my decision (which is now wavering to identifying the
> statements) I made another mentograph to rebut Murray Altheim assertion
> that "There's no way to represent the variability of one's relationship
> to the lily".  You can see from digram [1] that there is not a whole 
> lot of difference between the different tuple formats proposed.
> [1] http://robustai.net/mentography/TheLilyDone2Ways.gif

Seth, I think your approach to this is quite interesting, but it's not
really addressing two points philosophically, though this shouldn't be
taken as a criticism because I don't know that it's *possible*. If you
read Paul Prueitt's and Kevin Johnson's replies to me today on the
topicmapmail@infoloom.com list, Paul at least agrees from a more formal
ontological perspective, and Kevin's input seems to move in the same
direction. Fun stuff nevertheless, and I think some good ideas are

The two points are these: 

  1. You can't bridge the gap between reality and representation
     of reality. This goes back to things like "Zen and the Art of 
     Motorcycle Maintenance" (found more formally in Sarte and 
     Heidegger). We as living beings can only do that with language,
     beginning with a third-order (at least) removed bolus of 
     information first formed internally (some might say unformed)
     and then communicated externally via the "formalism" of spoken
     language (which is not a loss-less process). Ontologies all 
     live at the language level, although one could posit an 
     existence of an operational "internal ontology" built from
     the stuff of our experience. The best one can do is admit the
     existence of the proxy and move forward. This was what I meant
     in referring to Doug Lenat's inherent admission of failure in
     this regard*, and building something anyway -- and these
     somethings are often interesting and valuable even if not
     universal, sometimes even beautiful and elegant, like many
     imperfect things (a Frank Lloyd Wright building, a Gary Snyder
     poem, or a lily come to mind). There's a great flaw in 
     believing one can capture universal truths inside of limited
     representation systems, though this has never stopped anyone
     from trying.

  2. You can add a large number of discrete representations of the
     variability of experience, but what I'm alluding to is the
     "infinite" variability, ie., the difference between the set of
     discrete whole numbers and a floating point number. And there's
     no metric on this when we start counting...

This is not to say that pragmatically we should just pack up our 
bags and go home. On the contrary, it's just that with the necessary
admission of the limitations imposed by the mapping process, we still
map (we have no other choice -- even our eyes and ears do this). But
there's the interesting gains of mapping, such as the discernment 
required in creating it, which involves an accumulation of human
knowledge and scoping/context of subject (just as we are able to hear
a conversation with a friend in a crowded room, there are political
maps, geographical maps, etc.).

BTW, I'm really enjoying the conversation, both here and on topicmapmail.
I just received word yesterday that its likely I'll be spending more 
time in this neck of the woods, so I look forward to further digging in
the dirt.



* another conversation on topicmapmail@infoloom, occurring over the past
  few days.
Murray Altheim                            <mailto:altheim&#x40;eng.sun.com>
XML Technology Center
Sun Microsystems, Inc., MS MPK17-102, 1601 Willow Rd., Menlo Park, CA 94025

      In the evening
      The rice leaves in the garden
      Rustle in the autumn wind
      That blows through my reed hut.  -- Minamoto no Tsunenobu
Received on Friday, 27 April 2001 12:06:58 UTC

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.1 : Wednesday, 7 January 2015 15:07:35 UTC