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Re: JSON Emergency Brake

From: Michael Hausenblas <michael.hausenblas@deri.org>
Date: Tue, 23 Aug 2011 16:38:48 +0100
Message-Id: <CEE70454-BCF9-41ED-B9B5-0B7122FF1721@deri.org>
To: Thomas Steiner <tomac@google.com>, RDF WG <public-rdf-wg@w3.org>

Tom, All,

> TL;DR: in my humble opinion, we should not continue with RDF/JSON, but
> fully focus on JSON-LD even if it might take longer, as JSON-LD feels
> like  JSON, whereas RDF/JSON feels like RDF in a JSON camouflage.

Thank you for this write-up and a +1 from my side.

I think, also in the light of the efforts around http://structured-data.org/ 
  that in fact JSON-LD is the way to go.

As an aside: we are already closely collaborating with the Schema.org  
sponsors via Schema.RDFS.org and I think I can confirm what Tom says  
about this activity from our experience.

Dr. Michael Hausenblas, Research Fellow
LiDRC - Linked Data Research Centre
DERI - Digital Enterprise Research Institute
NUIG - National University of Ireland, Galway
Ireland, Europe
Tel. +353 91 495730

On 23 Aug 2011, at 16:25, Thomas Steiner wrote:

> Dear all,(*)
> ===
> TL;DR: in my humble opinion, we should not continue with RDF/JSON, but
> fully focus on JSON-LD even if it might take longer, as JSON-LD feels
> like  JSON, whereas RDF/JSON feels like RDF in a JSON camouflage.
> ===
> First and foremost, I want to apologize for whatever toes I step on
> with this email. This email is in no way meant as an offense to the
> individuals and companies involved, and I want to highlight that I'm
> in the comfortable - but also unthankful - position of the (hopefully)
> neutral observer, who enters the discussion when all the foundational
> work has already been done. By this foundational work I mean RDF/JSON
> [1] by Talis, and JSON-LD [2] by PaySwarm (forgive the simplification
> of not mentioning persons, but companies). Thanks! It's excellent! I
> could not have done it.
> Now, in ISSUE-2 [3], we came to the conclusion to "(1) Incubate on
> something like JSON-LD, (2) make a REC on something like Talis
> RDF/JSON [...]". The more and more I look at both specs, the more and
> more I feel like the resolution we agreed on for ISSUE-2 was wrong.
> Following ACTION-38 [4] where Ivan had asked me to become a co-editor
> on the to-be-REC'ed Talis RDF/JSON that I accepted, the proposed
> workflow was Ian to commit a first draft of the document ([1]
> effectively), that could then be discussed.
> I have fully re-read both specs, but all honestly, the actual
> eye-openers for me were a blog post [5] by Alexandre Passant and a
> tweet by Christopher Gutteridge [6]. JSON-LD is(**) about objects,
> simple default assumptions, elegancy, and developers in mind, whereas
> RDF/JSON seems to be created with the premise to carry all the
> expressiveness of RDF over to JSON, whatever the cost might be. Coming
> more from a JavaScript camp than from an RDF camp myself, this feels
> wrong. Of course I can see where RDF/JSON came from, and it completely
> makes sense from that perspective. In the next paragraph, I explain
> why.
> Let me try to explain my main concerns with a bad metaphor (there's a
> long tradition of those...). Web developers, JavaScript people, those
> who speak JSON natively, are the cool kids. We are the detached youth
> workers [7] who put on an adidas hoodie, read up on street slang on
> the Internet, and try to behave just like the cool kids. We serve them
> RDF/JSON (yes, yes, yo, homie), but we will probably fail. They see
> through our plan, we risk to get laughed at. RDF/JSON just does not
> feel natural to them, and this now, at a critical point, where
> semantics are kind of back in the section "cool" of the news. Of
> course I'm referring to schema.org(***). If we get a syntax REC out
> now that does not feel native to the cool kids (even if we incubate on
> something better [3]), we risk on losing traction. I have asked some
> Google JavaScript people for advise, and they feel "at home" in
> JSON-LD. It is the language they speak. I feel at home in JSON-LD.
> Others do [8, 9], [10]. The Twitter feedback on the RDF/JSON draft
> release [1] is relatively critical [11].
> Now, those are tough claims and vague feelings, but I considered them
> important enough to write this email. Apologies again to whomever toes
> I have stepped on. My concrete proposition is: we refrain from working
> further on the RDF/JSON REC, and fully focus on JSON-LD instead. I
> would also like to back out of being an editor of [1], as I have not
> done anything at all on that spec yet, and because I feel it is wrong
> at this point in time, as hopefully explained in this email. While I
> have done very, very limited amounts of work on JSON-LD (just
> following the discussion mainly), I am happy to serve as an editor
> thereof in fulfillment of what I agreed on in ACTION-38 [4], but it
> feels like adorning myself with borrowed plumes, as the German saying
> goes, and very much undeserved. Maybe we can discuss this during one
> of the next RDF WG meetings, maybe even in a joint RDF - RDFa WG
> meeting.
> In the hope of not having hurt too many feelings, but rather started a
> productive discussion instead.
> Best,
> Tom
> [1] http://dvcs.w3.org/hg/rdf/raw-file/default/rdf-json/index.html
> [2] http://json-ld.org/spec/latest/
> [3] http://www.w3.org/2011/rdf-wg/track/issues/2
> [4] http://www.w3.org/2011/rdf-wg/track/actions/38
> [5] http://blog.seevl.net/2011/08/18/about-json-ld-and-content-negotiation/
> [6] http://twitter.com/cgutteridge/status/105894098023620608
> [7] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Youth_work#Detached_youth_work
> [8] http://twitter.com/orlin/status/104926442843934721
> [9] http://twitter.com/orlin/status/104797459292753920 (note the
> hashtag #unsemanticweblike)
> [10] http://twitter.com/terraces/status/105066802740080640
> [11] https://twitter.com/#!/search/realtime/rdf%20json%20-RT
> (realtime, might have changed when you click the link)
> (*) Full disclaimer: I have had this email be ACK'ed off-list by Ian
> Davis, Manu Sporny, Guus Schreiber, and Ivan Herman before sending it
> on-list now.
> (**) When I write "is", "seems", etc., basically all verbs, all this
> reflects my impression that I personally got. You can add an "IMHO"
> suffix to each sentence. The spec authors will probably disagree with
> some assumptions.
> (***) I was not at all involved in any of the schema.org discussions,
> plannings, the concept at all. All what I'm writing here on this
> topic, I do it with my Google hat off.
> --
> Thomas Steiner, Research Scientist, Google Inc.
> http://blog.tomayac.com, http://twitter.com/tomayac
Received on Tuesday, 23 August 2011 15:39:17 UTC

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