Re: RDFa and Web Directions North 2009

On Fri, 13 Feb 2009, Ben Adida wrote:
> If we were only trying to solve the "how do I find better music online?" 
> problem, we probably would come up with a much more domain-specific 
> approach than RDFa.
> If we were only trying to solve the "how do I express copyright 
> licensing on videos" problem, ditto.
> And so on with each individual use case taken *in isolation*.
> But when you take all of these use cases together, it become clear that, 
> if we generally had a way to express structured data within existing 
> HTML pages, using a universal data parser, with the ability to mix and 
> match properties such as licensing, bit rate, title, etc... then these 
> individual problems would be much easier to solve based on this one 
> underlying technology.
> So, can we look at the use cases as a whole?

In a word, no.

A very common architectural mistake that software engineers make is 
looking at five problems, seeing their commonality, and attempting to 
solve all five at once. The result is almost always a solution that is 
sub-par for all five problems.

Solutions should and must be evaluated on a per-problem basis, to make 
sure we don't fall into that trap. It might well be that RDF and/or RDFa 
are in fact really well suited to a whole host of problems. Or it might be 
that they are not. To determine this one way or the other, we have to work 
down problem by problem and see whether RDFa is a good solution or not for 
each one.

> > The ccREL use case description doesn't describe the problem. It just 
> > describes what ccREL is. It would be helpful if the problem was 
> > actually explained, e.g. "Authors need a way to make sure that their 
> > content reuses other content only in the manner allowed by that other 
> > content".
> From the Background Section (Section #2) of ccREL:
> """
> Simple programs should thus be able to answer questions like:
>   * Under what license has a copyright holder released her
>     work, and what are the associated permissions and
>     restrictions?
>   * Can I redistribute this work for commercial purposes?
>   * Can I distribute a modified version of this work?
>   * How should I assign credit to the original author?
> """

This would be much better material to have on this page:

...if that page is intended to show what problems RDFa solves.

(I would expand on the above extract by including the "why" and the 
"what", e.g. "someone is making a video and wishes to embed photos that 
are CC licensed; they want to know the answers to these questions" or 
"someone is writing a Web page that embeds a video that embeds photos that 
are CC licensed, and they want their software to automatically answer and 
address these questions", or whatever.)

Ian Hickson               U+1047E                )\._.,--....,'``.    fL       U+263A                /,   _.. \   _\  ;`._ ,.
Things that are impossible just take longer.   `._.-(,_..'--(,_..'`-.;.'

Received on Saturday, 14 February 2009 00:14:41 UTC