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Re: Krivov's question: "Why RDF?"

From: Jim Hendler <hendler@cs.umd.edu>
Date: Wed, 10 Mar 2004 17:52:25 -0500
Message-Id: <p06020415bc754a721e45@[]>
To: Sandro Hawke <sandro@w3.org>, www-webont-wg@w3.org

At 17:27 -0500 3/10/04, Sandro Hawke wrote:
>re: http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-webont-comments/2004Mar/0020
>I provoked some discussion of this matter on the the DAML/EU Joint
>Committee list recently.  (The question there being whether or how to
>layer a rule language (eg SWRL) on RDF.)
>    Peter F. Patel-Schneider:
>       I argued long and loud in the W3C WebOnt working group about
>       problems that using the RDF syntax caused.  This argument didn't go
>       anywhere, so I gave in and created a partial solution for OWL.
>    Sandro Hawke:
>       Do you remember why the WG disagreed with you?
>    Peter F. Patel-Schneider:
>       Because all Semantic Web langauges have to be same-syntax
>       extensions of RDF.
>    Frank van Harmelen:
>       Yes, I must support this. The *only* argument for many WebOnt
>       members to accept/put up with the RDF syntax for OWL was
>       political pressure (perceived or real) from W3C.
>          -- http://www.daml.org/listarchive/joint-committee/1639.html
>I wasn't in the WG for those discussion, and I suspect the history
>isn't as important as the future.   For people developing a rule
>language these are important issues for the future; for this working
>group there may be some important explanations or lessons that
>can be offered, perhaps in response to Prof. Krivov's question.
>Here's a strawman answer:

<Chair hat="very very off">
For what it is worth, as most will remember I fought long and hard 
for this -- the answer in my mind, a subset of the long answer Sandro 
sent, is that without it the Semantic Web wouldn't be a web -- it 
would be a lot of individual documents that weren't linked together. 
As I use OWL more and more in our work, I become happier and happier 
with our decision to go this route.  There were political factors, 
but I personally didn't think it was pressure from W3C - it was 
pressure from me and DanC to a large degree,  in our role as WG 
members, that made many of the arguments.  Several of the people who 
questioned the decision in the early days (Pat Hayes for one) are now 
strong supporters as they've learned how important this linking and 
merging stuff can be -- and I look forward to the day when the group 
realizes just how good a decision this was :->

At 17:27 -0500 3/10/04, Sandro Hawke wrote:
>       (3) RDF systems are expected to become very sophisticated in
>       merging data from web data sources, with caching, provenance
>       tracking, publish/subscribe features, trust reasoning, etc.
>       If OWL ontologies are just more RDF data, they can more easily
>       provide these services for the OWL data needed in reasoning
>       about the RDF data.

Sandro -- FWIW - this is becoming more and more clear to me as I work 
on these issues -- we've been giving lots of demos of semantic web 
portal stuff, and the fact that we can handle the metadata for the 
RDF documents as just more RDF has given us some amazingly powerful 
bits that really impress people when they see them - and that's the 
stuff that is most different from XML/XHTML of all the stuff we show.

Professor James Hendler			  http://www.cs.umd.edu/users/hendler
Director, Semantic Web and Agent Technologies	  301-405-2696
Maryland Information and Network Dynamics Lab.	  301-405-6707 (Fax)
Univ of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742	  240-277-3388 (Cell)
Received on Wednesday, 10 March 2004 17:52:27 UTC

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