W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > semantic-web@w3.org > February 2006

Re: Showing the Semantic Web

From: Sandro Hawke <sandro@w3.org>
Date: Thu, 23 Feb 2006 13:58:08 -0500
To: ben syverson <w3@likn.org>
Cc: semantic-web@w3.org
Message-Id: <20060223185808.103164F4D2@homer.w3.org>

> What you want is reified statements, and as Shelley Powers says,  
> reification is "the RDF Big Ugly." There are plenty of ways to  
> express what you want to say in RDF, but they won't necessarily be  
> useful to a reasoner that doesn't have a built-in understanding of  
> reification. Of course, if your target is other NewsML readers, then  
> it may not matter, but you seem to want people to be able to use "off- 
> the-shelf" tools to make complex queries about statements. At the  
> moment, I don't think that's possible.
> It's too bad RDF wasn't designed with the idea that every assertion  
> should be reified -- even if only implicitly ("foo.rdf" asserts  
> "bar"). RDF's underlying assumption of absolute truth is a near- 
> dealbreaker in the context of massive collaborative networks such as  
> the internet.

Or you could just use the Web.

While I'm sympathetic your complaint about RDF -- it would be nice to
have simple reification that just worked -- we don't necessarily need it
when we have the Web.

If you want to say 

     people:John eg:said { people:Amy foaf:knows people:Bob }.

you can instead say

     people:John eg:said <msg2231>.

and have the file (web resource) at relative URL "msg2231" contain

    people:Amy foaf:knows people:Bob.

I know it's not as elegant in some ways, but it basically works.

Now -- on the notion of absolute truth?  No, not at all.  No one says
msg2231 is true just because it's on the web.  If the full URI is
http://example.com/msg2231 then some people might say that Example
Corporation is claiming msg2231, but I don't think they'd even win that
argument.  The entities that can speak on the web -- that can be said to
claim something -- are web pages.

I think of each URL as naming a sign-board.  The sign-board says
something.  We can point to it and talk about.  Maybe we can tell who is
responsible for it.  One sign board can say things about another one
(since they all have names [URLs]).  Maybe people make directories of
all the sign-boards (search engines).  Sometimes what's written gets
changed.  This is the web, and if what's written is written in a
language with declarative semantics, this is (IMHO) the semantic web.

     -- sandro
Received on Thursday, 23 February 2006 18:58:14 UTC

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