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Re: The tone of the "JSON-LD vs. RDF" debate (was re: Sub-issue on the re-definition of Linked Data)

From: Sandro Hawke <sandro@w3.org>
Date: Mon, 10 Jun 2013 23:49:54 -0400
Message-ID: <51B69E62.9000708@w3.org>
To: Manu Sporny <msporny@digitalbazaar.com>
CC: David Booth <david@dbooth.org>, Gregg Kellogg <gregg@greggkellogg.net>, Markus Lanthaler <markus.lanthaler@gmx.net>, 'public-rdf-comments' <public-rdf-comments@w3.org>
On 06/10/2013 10:29 PM, Manu Sporny wrote:
> On 06/10/2013 06:09 PM, David Booth wrote:
>> There are only a few outliers, and most of them seem to be members of
>> the JSON-LD group who: (a) clearly have an ulterior motive in
>> re-defining the term "Linked Data";
> Let's step back from this particular discussion for a second. I hope
> that all of us can get some perspective by doing so.
> I've noticed the tone of this thread go from helpful to personal in the
> last few responses. That's not going to help the various parties
> involved get to any sort of compromise.
> I don't think it helps to start accusing others of having "ulterior
> motive"s for a few reasons:
> 1. It erodes the environment of good faith that we strive to create
>     across all W3C groups.
> 2. There is a negative connotation attached with that phrase and it
>     puts people on the defensive.
> 3. We're not mind readers, so we shouldn't try to predict intent, and
> 4. We all want the RDF data model to succeed.
> In general, we all want the same thing - for RDF to succeed in a much
> bigger way than it has to date.
> Let's review what we have so far:
> 1. JSON-LD has just been integrated into products (GMail, Google
>     Search, and Google Now) that are being used by 425+ million people.
> 2. RDFa is being used on hundreds of thousands of domains.
> 3. The primary editors, authors, members, and implementors of those
>     technologies are involved in the RDF WG, RDFa WG, and JSON-LD CG.
> Any argument that claims that the people working on these technologies
> are not also fighting for RDF are unconvincing. Additionally, I think
> that the people working on these technologies have a very keen insight
> into what works and what doesn't when it comes to getting adoption. They
> have a track record to back it up.
> One of the biggest problems that we faced with RDFa adoption were the
> letters R, D, and F. It's not an issue in the RDF / Semantic Web groups.
> It is a big issue outside of those groups. It's a big issue because
> "RDF" has a horribly steep learning curve for Web developers that have
> to keep umpteen technologies in their head as they try to create their
> products. It's not the data model that's the problem, it's everything
> else that is lumped on top. It's hard for a web developer to sort out
> what the necessary parts of the stack are, so they tend to go all in and
> get overwhelmed as a result.
> The litmus test for most Web technologies that have high adoption rates
> is "can I pick it up in an afternoon and do something cool with it?". If
> the answer is "no", then the chances of it succeeding are far worse than
> if you can answer the question above in the affirmative.
> JSON-LD takes these two general insights and attempts to organize the
> spec language around summarizing the good parts of what we're trying to
> achieve as a community without overloading the developer with
> unnecessary information.
> If we introduce RDF too early in that document, we have three potential
> negative outcomes:
> 1. Readers will feel overwhelmed that they have to learn yet another
> technology to understand JSON-LD.
> 2. Readers will go off and read about RDF, which they shouldn't have to
> do to do something useful with the technology.
> 3. Readers will short-cut the decision to use the technology based on
> the LARGE body of mis-information out there about RDF.
> Including RDF that early in the document only has one positive outcome:
> 1. We will be aligned with TimBL's definition of Linked Data (which has
> been demonstrated to be controversial - case in point: this thread and
> the increasingly hostile tone of the debate).

I think there may be other positive outcomes.    Without getting into 
them, I think there might be a compromise in mentioning RDF toward the 
beginning in a very careful way that preserves some distance and does 
not make people feel they should go off and read about RDF.  Something 
like this in the Introduction:

    JSON-LD was designed to be compatible with Semantic Web technologies
    like RDF and SPARQL.  People intending to use JSON-LD with RDF tools
    will find it can be used as another RDF syntax, like Turtle. 
    Complete details of how JSON-LD relates to RDF are in Appendix C.

I think that would avoid scaring off non-RDF folks (since it make 
implicitly clear that you don't need to use it with RDF stuff) , while 
it tells RDF folks what they need to know before they've read all the 
way to Appendix C.

(I didn't want to jump into the earlier argument, but since I'm posting 
anyway, I'll add a little history.  TimBL posted his Linked Data 
Principles without mentioning RDF, as has been observed. People starting 
talking about them as if they could use them without using RDF.  I saw 
that and told him about it, suggesting if he meant this to be 
specifically for RDF he should probably say so.   Frankly I think he was 
torn, because they do make *sense* without RDF, but at the same time 
they're not nearly as useful without RDF.   Anyway, at some point after 
that he modified the text.   I'm hoping I don't have to go over all this 
with him in a Transition Meeting because we get a formal objection about 
this, but whatever.       One other datum: in the chartering of GLD, I 
had to be very careful with the wording to avoid a formal objection from 
an RDF-hostile W3C Member who wanted the term "Linked Data" not 100% 
bound to RDF.  They were okay with the wording we settled on there, 
which is pretty ambiguous on this.)

> If there is an ulterior motive, it is to get RDF into the hands of as
> many people as possible... which is a common goal for all of us.
> It would be good if we can get the tone of the conversation centered
> around that assumption and some solid proposals. Your last proposal was
> good. It was -1'ed for reasons given, but you should also keep in mind
> that we integrated some of your earlier feedback as well and have a very
> good track record of integrating feedback from the RDF WG when there is
> consensus around that feedback.
> If any of you that feel strongly about this have the time to join the
> JSON-LD call tomorrow, please do. I think we could come to an
> understanding over the phone. Dial-in details are here:
> http://json-ld.org/minutes/

I'm planning to be there.

       - Sandro

> -- manu
Received on Tuesday, 11 June 2013 03:50:10 UTC

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