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Re: RDF: XULing or Grueling

From: Harry Halpin <hhalpin@ibiblio.org>
Date: Sat, 06 Oct 2007 07:01:23 -0400
Message-ID: <47076B03.8060407@ibiblio.org>
To: Bijan Parsia <bparsia@cs.man.ac.uk>, 'Semantic Web' <semantic-web@w3.org>

Bijan Parsia wrote:
> http://www.jerf.org/resources/xblinjs/whyNotMozilla/notXulTemplates.html
> http://krijnhoetmer.nl/irc-logs/whatwg/20071004#%23l-543
> These days, I generally muck in the OWL end of things, as y'all might
> have noticed. However, I see these sorts of RDF bashing now and again
> and wonder. Several of the showcase applications of RDF from earlier
> in the 00s seem to have gone a bit bust leaving a bad taste in some
> folks mouth (RSS 1.0, XUL, I would say OWL's RDF syntax..certainly for
> me; I didn't *start out* disliking it in the DAML+OIL days; my own
> personal cross the WSDL RDF mapping).
> Now some of these may have had other factors as well (RSS 1.0 is an
> obvious example). But it's not clear to me that RSS 1.0 is such a
> great idea. If we could press a button and eliminate all the other
> flavors and Atom, or RDFize all of them, would we do so? Would it be a
> good idea?
Ian Davis's work on using RSS 1.0 has convinced me that RSS 1.0 is
actually *really* useful:


And one could always just have a GRDDL from Atom to RDF, so we all get
the best of both worlds.
> (I suppose XMP is still chugging, yes? Does creative commons still use
> RDF? Is anyone tracking these attempts over time and writing them up
> as case studies?)
> In my experience, several communities resented the injection of RDF
> "from above" (certainly that was a strong feeling in the WSDL group).
> Exposure made them more angry about it rather than less. This is not a
> happy thing. When I compare with things like JSON (which is popular)
> or YAML (which I think isn't nearly as popular...don't have anything
> more than my impression), they don't seem to arose the same sort of
> hostility, nor are they generally *imposed*. (Though interesting, in
> that same chat log there is a bit of discussion about why Hixie
> defined his own syntax for a manifest file instead of using JSON or
> even XML.)
Again, anything a  desperate C hacker can't write a parser for quickly
is going to be a problem, and about 99 percent of people I know dislike
RDF (and the SemWeb in general) primarily because they find the RDF/XML
syntax user-hostile, and secondly because they view it as the use of
taxonomies to organize data. Of course, RDF/XML came out the way it did
for good reason, and taxonomies are damn useful in some applications.
But still, I think better evangelism about RDF for data merger and
rubber-stamping the Turtle/N3 syntax would neatly solve 99 percent of
these complaints.

> The linked data stuff seems harmless in that afaict it doesn't hork
> anyone off and seems sorta neat (though I've personally not read a lot
> of excitement about it from outside our community; pointers are welcome).
I mean, one could probably say the same thing for OWL 1.1 if one wasn't
deeply involved in the effort :) Let's try to keep positive here...
> Sorry to ramble: My question is whether we can or should come up with
> an analysis of these cases. Both the tactics of pushing adoption and
> the actual technological solutions. These don't feel like Clay
> Shirkleyesque confused naysaying, but some real issues. Maybe the
> issues are *all* idiosyncratic (e.g., perhaps mozilla's "bad" RDF
> implementation was to blame for the perceived problems...but then, why
> didn't any of us step up to the plate and fix it? did we not think
> this was an important evangelization opportunity?)
Perhaps the intersection of the RDF community with people who can fix
Mozilla was unfortunately 0. I agree it would have been great and still
is, but that's non-trivial. And yes, these issues should  be indexed and
kept tracked of, as should issues for any W3C standard. The problem is
who gets that ball after the WG is closed, right?
> GRDDL seems like a reasonable attempt to rehabilitate the hegemonic
> reputation of the RDF community. So that's potentially good. I'd be
> interested in some reflection about these cases (and others).
Crossing fingers - I think allowing easy ways for people to write RDF is
the way to go.
> BTW, this isn't meant as a nay-saying bit, but as a wanting to derive
> useful lessons from past experience. The above links *do* contain
> nay-saying, but I'm less interested in refuting that than
> understanding what drove it and if there is any way to do better.
> (Does SWEO do case studies where RDF "failed"? Or analyses of when RDF
> might not be the right choice?)
Perhaps put this ball in SWEO's court?
> Cheers,
> Bijan.


Harry Halpin,  University of Edinburgh 
http://www.ibiblio.org/hhalpin 6B522426
Received on Saturday, 6 October 2007 11:01:27 UTC

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