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Re: Official response to RDF-ISSUE-132: JSON-LD/RDF Alignment

From: Pat Hayes <phayes@ihmc.us>
Date: Mon, 10 Jun 2013 12:46:00 -0500
Cc: public-rdf-comments@w3.org
Message-Id: <C1103A10-5770-41EA-8E30-107CE5724952@ihmc.us>
To: Kingsley Idehen <kidehen@openlinksw.com>

On Jun 8, 2013, at 3:39 PM, Kingsley Idehen wrote:

> On 6/8/13 2:45 PM, David Booth wrote:
>> On 06/08/2013 02:30 PM, Markus Lanthaler wrote:
>>> On Saturday, June 08, 2013 5:13 PM, Sven R. Kunze wrote:
>> [ . . . ]
>>>> Would adding your CLEAR statement ("JSON-LD is a concrete syntax of
>>>> RDF.") to the part "relationship" or even in the intro as the first
>>>> line as e.g. turtle does do any harm?
>>> You didn't read the intro, but already there we say
>>>    Developers that require any of the facilities listed above or
>>>    need to serialize an RDF graph or dataset [RDF11-CONCEPTS] in
>>>    a JSON-based syntax will find JSON-LD of interest.
>>> IMHO that's crystal clear.
>> But clarity needs to be assessed in the eyes of the *readers* -- not the authors.  Obviously it is *not* clear to readers, as you've heard substantially similar comments on this point from both Sven and from me.  Telling readers that they "will find JSON-LD of interest" is nowhere near as clear as explicitly saying that "JSON-LD is a concrete syntax of RDF" or "JSON-LD is a serialization format for RDF".
>> David
> JSON-LD can be used to produce Linked Data. It can leverage RDF as a mechanism for increasing the semantic fidelity of the Relations in the Linked Data produced.
> RDF cannot be all things to all scenarios. That's the darn problem with the narratives around RDF that have utterly obscured its comprehension and appreciation over the years.
> RDF is extremely useful. It can stand on its own merits. It doesn't need to add Linked Data to that bucket too.

That is not the point. The point is that JSON-LD is *obviously* modelled on RDF, is *designed* to be as close to the RDF data model as possible, but its documentation *deliberately* obscures this fact , and moreover it is clear from reading the email archives that this is a conscious decision, intended to mislead readers. Such behaviour is IMO not appropriate when writing standards. I recognize that it is motivated by a desire to connect with a sizeable body of people like yourself who would be irrationally "put off" by seeing the three letters R D F anywhere in the spec, or possibly even by the mere word "semantic", but IMO that does not justify writing a specification document which sets out to deliberately obscure, rather than document, an important technical connection between specifications. It is basically dishonest, is the main problem I have with the JSON-LD spec. Specs should not be thought of as advertising or propaganda. 

> JSON-LD is also very useful, it too can stand on its own merits as a mechanism for producing Linked Data that's palatable to JSON developers while also enabling exploitation of RDF's virtues.

Your point here presumes that JSON-LD is different from RDF, so provides an alternative. Which would be a very good point if it were true, but it (basically) isn't. (Actually it is when you get down to picky details like using bnodes as properties and literal formats, but these mismatches between JSON-LD and RDF are widely seen as a *problem*. Why would that be, if these are distinct alternatives?) JSON-LD is basically a JSON syntax for RDF (with a few sore rubbing spots). Which is a great thing, and should be encouraged, but let us at least be honest about what it actually is. 

> The Web works because its components are loosely coupled.
> RDF has struggled over the years because positions like yours are completely antithetical to what makes the Web work.
> The Web was semantically interlinked from day one, and there was no RDF on day one.

The Web was linked from day one, but it was not *semantically* linked until there was some semantics, and the RDF data model provided that. It's a very minimal semantics, but it's better than nothing. 

> Without Links there is no Web. On the Web a Link denotes a Relation.

Really? Who says? I have yet to see any spec which provides a semantics for web links. (And in any case, a relation between what?)

> When Links denote Relations you have a Semantic Web,

So the Web has been Semantic since 1991? How about that, all that time and nobody knew! 


> even if the granularity of the semantics are coarse rather than fine-grained to the perceptive prowess of humans and/or machines.
> The RDF narrative doesn't have to be so warped to the point of being ridiculed at every turn by folks who know far less, but have much deeper pockets and alternative ideas about what the Web is all about.
> If TimBL meant Linked Data to be a subset of RDF, rather than something you can produce using RDF, don't you think he would know exactly how to make that point?  He wouldn't need you or I to tell him how to pen such a meme, note, or set of guidelines.
> -- 
> Regards,
> Kingsley Idehen	
> Founder & CEO
> OpenLink Software
> Company Web: http://www.openlinksw.com
> Personal Weblog: http://www.openlinksw.com/blog/~kidehen
> Twitter/Identi.ca handle: @kidehen
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> LinkedIn Profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/kidehen

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Received on Monday, 10 June 2013 17:46:29 UTC

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