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Re: Open Library and RDF

From: Dan Brickley <danbri@danbri.org>
Date: Sat, 14 Aug 2010 20:48:15 +0200
Message-ID: <AANLkTikmPdeA+W-hNc1jisEQ3c166u8nrCnvHTj9eZ+8@mail.gmail.com>
To: "Young,Jeff (OR)" <jyoung@oclc.org>
Cc: Karen Coyle <kcoyle@kcoyle.net>, public-lld@w3.org
On Tue, Jul 20, 2010 at 12:02 AM, Young,Jeff (OR) <jyoung@oclc.org> wrote:
> Karen Coyle wrote:
>> This is exactly how I do think of these different definitions, but you
>> and I appear to be in the minority. For example, when I was modeling
>> the Open Library Author entity in RDF, I began by using RDA properties
>> [1], not FOAF, because I felt that since the author information had
>> primarily been derived from library data that rda:Person would be the
>> most appropriate. But I got a great deal of push-back on the ol-tech
>> list by folks who favored using FOAF, so I conceded (mainly in the
>> interest of having the OL RDF accepted by active members of the
>> community). I actually consider foaf:Person and rda:Person to be very
>> different, as evidenced by the properties they contain and the goals
>> and purposes of the metadata (I'm preparing a VERY LONG blog post on
>> this topic). However, since FOAF didn't have some of the properties I
>> needed, it ended up with some RDA properties being coded as relating
>> to foaf:Person. I feel uneasy about that, but the end result doesn't
>> seem to have any glaring violations of the meaning of the properties
>> themselves.
> You and I agree that "Work" is a homonym and that "Person" is in the
> same boat.
> I don't know if anyone noticed, but VIAF resources went through a
> similar flip-flop between foaf and skos. I felt an a-ha moment when we
> realized the generous possibility of supporting both at runtime using
> Linked Data hash URIs <http://www.w3.org/TR/cooluris/#hashuri>. What the
> heck, we added rdaEnt:Person last time around.
> http://viaf.org/viaf/27060791/#foaf:Person
> http://viaf.org/viaf/27060791/#rdaEnt:Person
> http://viaf.org/viaf/27060791/#skos:Concept
> In a future release, we can do even better by adding discrete Linked
> Data HTML & RDF representations that focus on each model separately.

Interesting stuff! Just a quick note to say that the FOAF spec is open
again for revisions, improvements and tweaks.

In particular, I published a revision last week which contained a new
property foaf:focus which links skos:Concepts to the things that they
stand for; this might help if you're sitting on a FOAF/SKOS fence.
There is some possibility it'll be renamed in the short term (to
'standsFor' perhaps), due to clash with related use of 'focus' in ISO
thesaurus specs. Currently I'm wavering a bit but leaning towards
sticking with foaf:focus as the name, and adding some clarificatory

has links and details.

I'd also like to note that I've tried in this revision to make the
spec work better for library and cultural heritage use, by
partitioning a view of the spec "FOAF core" which doesn't include all
the Webby stuff (homepage, openid, mbox); and also by reducing the
visibility of some of the older 'demo' terms, which are now flagged as
archaic vocabulary. There are few other ways that visibility can be
further reduced (eg. removing from the default view of the per-class
documentation) but for now I've focussed on the text at the top of the

I would be absolutely delighted if the LLD group cared to help refine
FOAF's person vocabulary to better support library, cultural heritage
scenarios, eg. by adding a few new properties. Once I'm back from
vacation next week I hope to start joining the telecons and
participating in this group more actively...

> Libraries shouldn't shy away from incomplete and imperfect conceptual
> models. Library school should have taught us all that objective reality
> is impossible. :-)

Objective reality teaches us the same thing ;)

> I can sympathize with two arguments against this POV: 1) the information
> is being maintained natively in RDF or 2) OL developers are being stingy
> with the URI patterns you've been allocated. I can think of solutions
> for the former. The fact that the URIs in your RDF aren't currently
> Linked Data suggests the latter.
> Let's do it both ways! Invite FOAF, VCard, SKOS, and other ontologies to
> the party. As we've discussed, though, I encourage you to avoid
> conflating rdf:types under a individual's URI.

I don't quite understand that last point. One thing with these kinds
of computer languages is that their combination is somewhat out of the
control of their creators. If some thing is a person (in the sense
described in prose in http://xmlns.com/foaf/spec/#term_Person ) then
they just *are* a member of the class foaf:Person. Whether it is in
some computer system / publication pragmatically useful to mention
that fact is of course quite another matter.


Received on Saturday, 14 August 2010 18:48:49 UTC

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