Re: RDF's challenge

When talking to web developers, they tell me they find little benefit on
using RDF. This is due to two main reasons, in my opinion (there may be
others, for sure):

- Lack of usable tools: How many good, stable tools for managing data in
RDF are available out there? How many are for CSV? Even an array of arrays
is good enough sometimes.
- Lack of usable data: In the case of Open Government Data, there are tons
of CSV documents available. Modeling data as RDF requires an extra effort,
which most people won't take, since they already have the data available.

If you add the fact that tabular data is easier in many cases easier to
understand (or at least we are more used to) I can understand why many
developers don't like RDF. The cherry on top is the the fact that URIs are
not human-friendly (ok, CURIEs makes it easier, I admit it), so the
Semantic Web does not look very attractive to web developers.

I do believe however that RDF is a great data model. For example, features
of SPARQL 1.1, (I'm thinking on property paths here) and the use of
inference can give you a powerful workbench to work with. I tend to agree
with Rufus re. the diagnosis ("RDF is not web native"), but I differ in the
solution. For me, instead of getting rid of a nice data model such as RDF,
we need is to provide usable tools, usable for developers at least. I know
there are many efforts on this regard, but there are many opportunities we
haven't considered. We need easier ways to take data and convert it, manage
it and use it, and the tools for that should be at least as simple as other
common tools.

I need to bring David Karger's article (based on his keynote at ESWC) at
I think he expresses with great clarity some of the problems of the SemWeb
community and RDF in particular.

Alvaro Graves-Fuenzalida
Web: - Twitter: @alvarograves

On Tue, Jun 11, 2013 at 1:49 PM, Phil Archer <> wrote:

> Thanks for picking this up Kingsley.
> I'd just like to highlight the end of the report [1] where I've described
> what we're proposing to our members on this, namely a new WG that will look
> specifically at CSV and the metadata needed to easily transform it into RDF
> or any other format. Jeni's work and others are inputs to that group. All
> being well it'll be chartered in the early autumn but we have hoops to go
> through first.
> I gave a talk on this at SemTech last week and made a slidecast version
> [2]. It sets out a bunch of things we're doing or proposing to do at W3C in
> the imminent future.
> Cheers
> Phil.
> [1]**report#next<>
> [2]**semtech<>
> On 11/06/2013 14:00, Kingsley Idehen wrote:
>> All,
>> "/RDF isn't natural --- and therefore is barely used --- by the average
>> Web developer or data wrangler. CSV, by contrast, is. And you are going
>> to need to win the hearts and minds of those folks for whatever approach
>> is proposed/." -- Rufus Pollock (OKFN) [1][2].
>> RDF is actually natural.  Unfortunately, narratives around it have now
>> created the illusion that its unnatural. We observe our world using
>> patterns much closer to RDF (entity relationship graphs) than CSV (when
>> used a mechanism for Tabular representation of entity relationships).
>> SPARQL enables one to expose RDF based data in a myriad of ways will
>> also enabling easy to comprehend Linked Data utility (i.e., HTTP URI
>> based super keys that specically resolve to documents that describe a
>> URIs referent).
>> Following the Open Data meeting I stumbled across a CSV browser [3]
>> developed by @JeniIT . I took a quick look and realized it could provide
>> the foundation addressing some of the confusion around Open Data, RDF,
>> and Linked Data. Thus, I had one of our interns simply tweak the CSV
>> browser such that on receipt of SPARQL-FED protocol URLs that resolve to
>> CSV formatted data you end up with a Linked Data browser.
>> The simple example above basically showcases how Linked Data aids data
>> discovery using the Web's basic follow-your-nose exploration pattern by
>> leveraging what CSV has to offer i.e., using a format that many (users
>> and developers) are already familiar with as a bridge builder en route
>> to showcasing the virtues of RDF, SPARQL, and Linked Data.
>> Links:
>> [1]**report<>-- Open Data Report.
>> [2]
>> it-radically-easier-to-get-**stuff-done-with-data/<>
>> .
>> [3]**linked-csv-browser<>-- CSV Brower
>> [4]**linked-csv-browser/pulls<>-- pull request
>> that sniffs for HTTP URIs and then makes them live links
>> [5] -- tweaked version of CSV browser showcasing
>> effects of live links based on a SPARQL-FED URL (Ordnance Survey) that
>> returns data in CSV format
>> [6] -- ditto using data form
> --
> Phil Archer
> W3C eGovernment
> +44 (0)7887 767755
> @philarcher1

Received on Tuesday, 11 June 2013 14:31:43 UTC