Re: Ending the Linked Data debate -- PLEASE VOTE *NOW*!

bcc: RDF WG

*JSON-LD Chair hat on*

David Booth wrote:
> In normal usage within the Semantic Web community, does the term 
> "Linked Data" imply the use of RDF?


I really wish you would have passed this poll by both the JSON-LD group
and the RDF WG before sending it out so that we could have settled on
the set of right questions to ask. As others have pointed out, you're
phrasing the question in such a way as to ignore the point of
contention. This is only going to muddy the already opaque waters.

Additionally, I don't see what marginalizing other Linked Data
technologies (that are "not RDF") is going to accomplish.

To the rest of the members of these mailing lists,

A number of us have been having an off-list exchange over why the text
outlining Linked Data is what it is in the JSON-LD spec. I'm going to
share parts of that exchange (only the bits that I wrote, names
redacted) in order to shine some light on why David Booth is trying to
get feedback from this community.


>> [Assertion that Linked Data implies the use of RDF]

Manu Sporny wrote:
> I know that you think it [Linked Data] has a well-established meaning
> in "the community". I disagree, not because I necessarily care that
> deeply about it, but because when we asked "the community" for the
> definition, we received a myriad of different answers from people
> that have been core to the process over the last decade. This led to
> a huge amount of work for the group because of exactly the type of
> exchange that is happening between [XXX] and [YYY]. [The definition
> of Linked Data] may seem clear to each of you, but I can assure you
> that it's not at all clear to the rest of us.
> Both of you are arguing over what each of you think was in TimBL's 
> head at the time. We can't base anything off of such a line of 
> argumentation.
> We debated the normative definition of Linked Data for months during
>  the development of JSON-LD. We even came up with normative spec text
>  so we could define what Linked Data is once and for all. We were
> then asked to remove the definition from the spec by the RDF WG
> because "it may be used to exclude certain technologies as Linked
> Data and further fracture the Linked Data movement." Damned if you
> do, damned if you don't.
> You can read the logs here, if you'd like:
> You can see the start of the normative definition of Linked Data 
> here:
> We did this because there was, and continues to be, no normative 
> definition of Linked Data.
> You are going to get a fantastic amount of push-back if you claim 
> anything to the contrary on the call. I'd re-think your approach if
> I were you and base a line of argumentation on why "RDF" should be 
> mentioned on first principles rather than relying on something TimBL 
> wrote over a decade ago.

>> [Assertion that the JSON-LD group is deliberately misleading the 
>> public by not asserting that Linked Data implies the use of RDF]

Manu Sporny wrote:
> I can't speak for the others, but I'm not convinced that we should 
> change it at this point because your line of argumentation has been 
> unconvincing. All that has happened to date is that both you and 
> [YYY] have provided evidence that there exist versions of TimBL's 
> document that do include RDF and don't include RDF when the concept 
> of Linked Data was introduced.
> Additionally, you haven't countered these pieces of evidence at all:
> Similarly, [YYY] hasn't countered yours. It's impossible to do so. 
> Neither one of you are going to be successful in convincing the other
> about what was going on in TimBL's head. So, we're just stuck here
> watching [XXX] and [YYY]'s conversation devolve to the following on a
> public mailing list:
> Yeah-huh! Nuh-uh! Yeah-huh!!! Nuh-uh!!!
> You need some new, convincing evidence. Additionally, even if that 
> evidence is TimBL himself stating that Linked Data is based on RDF, 
> you should prepare yourself for people to disagree vehemently with 
> that assertion as there are research papers that stretch all the way 
> back into the late 1970s covering things that pass the duck test as 
> Linked Data:
> 1976 - Peter Chen's thesis on "Linked Data" 

>> [[YYY] has misled the community into thinking that Linked Data
>> does not necessarily imply RDF.]

Manu Sporny wrote:
> What convinced me were facts and a sound line of reasoning. You are 
> assuming that the people that work on JSON-LD are easily swayed. You 
> have used facts, but have not provided a sound line of reasoning for
> why we should state that Linked Data is RDF or is based on RDF.

The very next e-mail I saw was the one calling for a poll on this matter.

The point of contention isn't about what the Semantic Web community
thinks about the definition of Linked Data. The point of contention is
if a large majority (90%+) thinks that Linked Data requires/implies the
use of RDF.

In order to discover the answer to that question, we would need an array
of questions posed to the general Web community that ask the following:

1. Does the use of Linked Data imply the use of RDF?

2. Does the use of Linked Data require the use of RDF?

3. Do you need to utilize many of the RDF Concepts to publish Linked
Data, or are simple key-value pair objects that use URLs to refer to one
another enough? That is, if JSON-LD didn't map to RDF at all, would it
still be considered Linked Data?

4. Must the definition of Linked Data make it explicit that Linked Data
is based on RDF?

5. Is there an EAV model that is not the RDF model but could be used to
express Linked Data?

6. Can vanilla JSON express Linked Data?

We can't address this question without being nuanced, because the
nuances matter. We can't focus the questions on just the Semantic Web
community. We need to cast a wider net and bring in Web developers with
no real background in formal logic and semantics.

We already went through this process before and whittled the definition
of Linked Data down to something that achieved consensus, and stood
untouched for a long time:

Going around the group, re-raising the question while submitting no new
evidence, especially after all of the evidence was laid out plainly, is
bad form.

That said, if you would like to work with the JSON-LD and RDF groups to
formulate a questionnaire that meets the needs of both sides of this
debate, I urge you to do that (and not circulate polls that only have
one correct answer).

-- manu

Manu Sporny (skype: msporny, twitter: manusporny, G+: +Manu Sporny)
Founder/CEO - Digital Bazaar, Inc.
blog: Meritora - Web payments commercial launch

Received on Thursday, 13 June 2013 19:51:09 UTC