W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-rdf-logic@w3.org > February 2001

RE: universal languages

From: Dan Brickley <danbri@w3.org>
Date: Sat, 3 Feb 2001 21:16:18 -0500 (EST)
To: Miles Sabin <MSabin@interx.com>
cc: <www-rdf-logic@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.30.0102032108020.11000-100000@tux.w3.org>
On Sun, 4 Feb 2001, Miles Sabin wrote:

> Dan Brickley wrote,
> > Griping about RDF 1.0 being simplistic misses the point. The
> > Web is simplistic; if this agent language we're discussing on
> > RDF-Logic is going to work, it's going to have to work with,
> > for, and on the Web. Content authoring and management tools
> > will need built-in support for creating and editing expressions
> > in this language. And that's where the usability issues bite.
> > Object-related-to-Object is a nice simple conceptual model. You
> > could teach it to school kids. While there are many reasons for
> > wanting n-ary, you lose the immediacy that comes with binary
> > relations.
>
> I wasn't griping about core RDF being simplistic. On the contrary
> I think that, for all that core RDF is lacking in some important
> respects, what's there is overly complex and baroque. Neither am
> I objecting to triples or binary relations ... they're perfectly
> appropriate for some tasks, of course. But I don't think you can
> claim that they're the simplest or most natural primitive units
> (which isn't to say that I think that there's anything else which
> would be more simple or natual in _all_ cases).

Hmm, I try to be polite on mailing lists; failed here, clearly.
Anyway 'griping' wasn't aimed at you. This list seems to
bring out the XML-DEVer in me sometimes. Guess I meant 'complaining'.
Which I do as much as anyone.

Whatever, I pretty much agree with what you're saying. The specs (esp. the
reification stuff imho) don't match the alleged simplicity of the model.
And I don't claim we've hit upon _the_ simplest useful Web data system.
Just that it can't get much simpler and still be useful, nor much more
(*)complex and still have hope of being comprehended by Web developers.

Dan

(* for some unspecified measure of complexity...)

>
> To take up your example of teaching it to school kids ... I guess
> you'd probably want to take them through something like the
> introductory example from RDF M&S ... you'd show them how to
> assert of their webpages that they were the authors, and show
> them how to make various assertion about themselves. Kids being
> kids, they'd probably want to assert of themselves 'I'm a girl'
> or 'I'm a boy'. Intuitively they'd want to write things like,
>
>   <s:Person about="...">
>     <s:Name>Little Joey</v:Name>
>     <s:Email>joey@school.edu</v:Email>
>     <s:Boy/>
>   </s:Person>
>
> [Is that empty element legal? A strict reading of RDF M+S
>  Basic RDF serialization form [6] suggests not, but I'll assume
>  that it is and that it's equivalent to <s:Boy></s:Boy>]
>
> Now get them to draw the graph representation of this corpus
> and watch their dear puzzled little faces as they try and work
> out what the object of the third assertion is.
>
> Of course you might just tell them that they shouldn't do it
> that way, and should instead have written,
>
>   <s:Gender>Female</s:Gender>
>
> or,
>
>   <s:Gender>Male</s:Gender>
>
> But _why_ should they have to do that? What are these mysterious
> gender literals that they're related to? Is this _really_ the
> simplest and most natural way of representing unary predicates?
>
> To be sure, you could give them a crash course in RDF Schema and
> rdfs:subPropertyOf or rdfs:subClassOf (being careful to skirt
> around the vexed question of whether or not the class of girls
> and the class of boys are disjoint). But then it's far from clear
> that we've still got the 'nice simple conceptual model' you were
> claiming at the outset.
>
> Cheers,
>
>
> Miles
>
>
Received on Saturday, 3 February 2001 21:16:20 GMT

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