W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-rdf-wg@w3.org > February 2013

Re: Blank Node Identifiers and RDF Dataset Normalization

From: Manu Sporny <msporny@digitalbazaar.com>
Date: Tue, 26 Feb 2013 23:27:09 -0500
Message-ID: <512D8B1D.4040304@digitalbazaar.com>
To: RDF WG <public-rdf-wg@w3.org>
CC: Linked JSON <public-linked-json@w3.org>
On 02/26/2013 10:45 AM, Steve Harris wrote:
>>> There are other ways you could have modelled the data you're 
>>> attempting to express which wouldn't require wholesale changes to
>>> RDF.
>> This isn't about the way we've modeled the data in our company; 
>> which currently works with RDF. It's that the way we've modeled the
>> data is a suboptimal and non-intuitive way of doing it. The use of
>> JSON makes this a little more apparent -- and people who author 
>> idiomatic JSON will notice and wonder why things were done 
>> differently. We can live with what some might consider an inferior
>>  design ... we're just trying to improve it where it is lacking.
> Sure, but you recognise that trying to rationalise your design by 
> making significant changes to a widely used spec isn't exactly going
>  to make your organisation very popular?

I'm going to deviate temporarily from the technical arguments, those
that want to skip to the technical stuff can skip this section.

Steve, making statements like these are not helpful. I can't keep
continuing to allow statements like this to slide, which you are
peppering into your responses, without saying something about your tone.

First, this discussion isn't about rationalizing a design decision, it's
about making developers do something that they don't normally have to do
- both in RDF and in JSON. Developers don't /have/ to label every
subject with an IRI in RDF, but they have to label every Graph with an
IRI in RDF. This isn't just about Web Payments, or JSON-LD. This is
going to be confusing to developers in general. You disagree. Don't then
attempt to make it seem like we are trying to do something sinister and
then play good cop by waving your finger at us and telling us that we're
going to be shunned by doing something that you planted on us.

Second, framing our technical comments as "trying to rationalise your
design by making significant changes to a widely used spec" is a fairly
nasty accusation to make as that sort of behavior is pretty vile. I've
notice this undercurrent in your responses and I'd like it to stop as
it's borderline ad hominem.

We wouldn't be making the request unless we thought it was for the good
of the Web.

Third, this isn't a popularity contest. We raised technical issues, if
people then take those issues and blame the messenger, then those people
aren't using logic and reason to guide their responses. The idea that
popularity would even enter into this discussion makes my skin crawl and
makes it seem like we're in high school all over again.

Pat disagreed vehemently with us at first, but respectfully, and worked
through it until he came to agree with our viewpoint. Andy continues to
respectfully disagree with our position, but is making a very concerted
effort to try and understand where we're coming from. Both of their
responses are appreciated. I'm not seeing the same sort of respectful
disagreement coming from you.

> Well, for completeness, there's three positions:
> 1) bNodes should be deprecated in RDF 1.1 2) We should stick with 
> what we have 3) We should allow them in more places in RDF 1.1
> People expressed support for 1) and 2) at the start of the WG, but 3)
> is a new position.

I've been involved in discussions about allowing blank nodes in all
positions with various members of the Semantic Web community since
2008... Kingsley's been talking about this stuff for even longer than
that. We've all been talking about it for a while in various sub-communties:


I do realize that some of the folks in the RDF WG may be unaware that
these discussions were happening, but even you admit that your company
had allowed blank nodes in the graph position far in advance of the
creation of this Working Group. I don't think it's a new position, or
rather, I don't think folks should be surprised that the concept exists
and found it's way into the group that decides these sorts of things.

>> Anyway, at this point I don't think we're likely to convince each 
>> other of the value of our respective positions, but thank you for 
>> listening.
> Indeed. I think we at least understand each others points of view.

I don't think that's true. I'm not certain I understand your point of
view, because:

1) it seems veiled in a general dismissal of the problem space, as Dave
Longley effectively argued in his responses to you,
2) the specific solutions that you refer to (skolemization for one) are
not actually solutions to the problem space as far as we can see,
3) the rest of the solutions you allude to are vague and don't consist
of enough details to apply it to the problem.

I also don't think you understand our point of view. I say this for two

1) Your responses gloss over specifics and demonstrate a basic
mis-understanding of the proposals that we've put forward.
2) There is a theme among your responses where you believe that there
isn't a problem, or the problem space is a solved one. When you approach
a problem with that viewpoint, you tend to miss things or misunderstand
the actual problem.

That said, I'm happy to leave things where they truly are: with you
dismissing the problem and the class of people it affects and some of us
not understanding why you've chosen to argue your point in the way that
you have. I think that's where we truly are in this discussion.

-- manu

Manu Sporny (skype: msporny, twitter: manusporny, G+: +Manu Sporny)
Founder/CEO - Digital Bazaar, Inc.
blog: Aaron Swartz, PaySwarm, and Academic Journals
Received on Wednesday, 27 February 2013 04:27:44 UTC

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