W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-rdf-wg@w3.org > March 2011

Re: should we standardize things not yet widely deployed?

From: Steve Harris <steve.harris@garlik.com>
Date: Sun, 6 Mar 2011 09:07:24 +0000
Cc: Richard Cyganiak <richard@cyganiak.de>, RDF Working Group WG <public-rdf-wg@w3.org>
Message-Id: <E1DE8C07-6C3D-4C9E-A376-C880DB5681A0@garlik.com>
To: Sandro Hawke <sandro@w3.org>
On 2011-03-06, at 01:24, Sandro Hawke wrote:

> On Sat, 2011-03-05 at 17:29 +0000, Richard Cyganiak wrote:
>> [a rant on the purpose of standardization groups; slightly off-topic]
> ...
>> The problem we face is that the specs are several years behind what's actually deployed and in active use. I'd prefer to see this WG spending its time on dragging the specs forward to catch up with reality as deployed and in active use. This WG is simply the wrong venue for speculating about the one feature that would make the whole world embrace RDF if it was added. If you have an opinion on that, then by all means round up some like-minded people and get busy coding/writing it up. That's R&D, and it's an extremely important part of advancing our case; in fact, I know that many members of this WG spend a lot of their non-WG time on this sort of activity. But standardization has to *follow* successful R&D. It cannot lead it.
> I think you're oversimplifying the interplay of invention, adoption, and
> standardization.   Features that are only useful for large-scale
> interchange are unlikely to be adopted before standardization.

I'm not convinced that's true Sandro, though I don't know of any features that are only useful for large-scale interchange.

> Sometimes people developing a long-term market need to look down the
> road, past some short-term market dynamics.  Can you imagine if there
> were 75 different standards for encoding movies onto plastic disks, all
> competing in the market for many years before a standard was made?
> That's not what happens, because the folks making movie players want a
> standard *before* they invest in manufacturing.

I don't know much about video standards, but the CD data format (Red Book) was in circulation for seven years before it was made a standard, there were several (though probably less than ten) competing digital audio systems that didn't reach standardisation, and they died out. It was derived from a successful proprietary system for tape-based digital recorders, based on video recorder hardware, which is why the numbers are all so strange.

The physical format was derived from the CLV LaserDisc format.

There was very little invention from scratch.

> RDF itself was standardized before significant deployment, twice.  You
> could argue that caused many of its problems, and I'd agree.  On the
> other hand, what was the alternative?  Before being a standard [1], its
> prospects were even worse.

With bootstrapping systems that's definitely an issue, but now, I feel that we have significant deployment, and innovation going on, and most important improvements have been tried in one or more systems.

Examples of things that have emerged are, quads (in stores), Turtle, N-Quads, and linkeddata principles (arguably).

> So, yes, I agree we should follow deployment experience where we have
> it.  But I think it's also okay, once in a while, to standardize ahead
> of the market, if we have no other good options.  

Sure, if there's no other good option, including not doing anything. I can't think of any features that users are clamouring for that much offhand.

- Steve

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Received on Sunday, 6 March 2011 09:08:03 UTC

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