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Re: RDF-ISSUE-110 (g-box): A proper term for the concept formerly known as ?g-box?? [RDF Concepts]

From: Thomas Baker <tom@tombaker.org>
Date: Tue, 20 Nov 2012 23:53:22 -0500
To: Kingsley Idehen <kidehen@openlinksw.com>
Cc: public-rdf-wg@w3.org, "public-rww@w3.org" <public-rww@w3.org>, "public-webid@w3.org" <public-webid@w3.org>, "public-ldp-wg@w3.org" <public-ldp-wg@w3.org>
Message-ID: <20121121045322.GA9278@julius>
On Tue, Nov 20, 2012 at 09:51:40PM -0500, Kingsley Idehen wrote:
> >Tom, the reason we can't give you a *definition* of the concept is that it
> >is a natural kind term. We didn't invent this idea; it isn't ours to define.
> >We just observed that, out there in the real world, there were by now a lot
> >of things that stored RDF or emitted RDF representations when suitably
> >poked, and were identified by IRIs, or at any rate thought of as having an
> >enduring identity, and yet were labile, in that sense that the actual RDF
> >they contained/emitted/whatever might vary with time. Because they are
> >labile, they can't be called RDF graphs (even though a lot of people were
> >calling them that.) Because they are real things that people identify and
> >use, we want to be able to refer to them, so we need a single overarching
> >name for the general concept. So, just as with "resource" and "document" and
> >"HTTP endpoint" and many other terms of art, we don't actually give a
> >*definition* of them, because once anyone gives a definition they fix the
> >meaning in stone and thereby exclude things that one might want to include
> >but had not thought of, or had not encountered, when the definition was
> >written. We thought of a number of evocative names (g-box, RDF document, rdf
> >surface) but they all were seen as too limiting, as tending to exclude some
> >useful cases (eg 'document' suggests something essentially textual, but an
> >RDF Source could be a process which scours RDFa from Web pages on demand)
> >and so the deliberately bland, uniformative term was chosen. Again, this is
> >a frequently used strategy in such circumstances. (The W3C could have save
> >itself a lot of grief if it had used the bland word "thing" instead of the
> >jazzier term "resource".)
> >
> >Seems to me that the phrasing used by Richard, viz, "persistent but mutable"
> >resources which emit RDF representations, is right on the mark. If you want
> >a definition, that is the best you can ever get. So, if you have something
> >that emits RDF when poked, is going to last for a while (so you might want
> >to identify it with a URI) , and is liable to emit different RDF at
> >different times (or even if not, if it is for other reasons the same *kind*
> >of thing as one that could be mutable in this sense), then whatever else it
> >happens to be, and however you implement it, it is an RDF Source.
> Great summary!
> If you don't mind, I've cc'd in some other RDF dependent groups that could
> benefit from the explanation above.

Great indeed!  This is exactly the explanation I was looking for!  It
acknowledges that for alot of people, "RDF graphs" evokes things that are
mutable, and it explains why Richard's minimal "definition" may be the best one
can do.  IMO, that story somehow needs to be part of the WG's message.


Tom Baker <tom@tombaker.org>
Received on Wednesday, 21 November 2012 04:54:05 UTC

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