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Re: Alternatives to containers/collections (was Re: Requirements for a possible "RDF 2.0")

From: Pat Hayes <phayes@ihmc.us>
Date: Fri, 15 Jan 2010 17:32:37 -0600
Cc: "Semantic Web" <semantic-web@w3.org>, "Jeremy Carroll" <jeremy@topquadrant.com>
Message-Id: <1EF669B9-87AF-49EA-9300-862683610EE1@ihmc.us>
To: "Michael Schneider" <schneid@fzi.de>

On Jan 15, 2010, at 4:04 PM, Michael Schneider wrote:

> Hi Pat!
> Pat Hayes wrote:
>> On Jan 15, 2010, at 3:23 PM, Michael Schneider wrote:
>>> Pat Hayes wrote:
>>>> +1. We have to be very careful about what exactly "optional" is
>>>> supposed to mean in a standard whose intention is to support
>>>> interoperability. If every processor is obliged to be able to  
>>>> process
>>>> it, its not optional. If they aren't, then interopreability is
>>>> compromised.
>>>> Pat
>>> If only things would always melt down to such a simple formula...
>> Well, simple rules are sometimes good guides to behavior. I take it
>> that you would prefer the much more complicated advice, to let it all
>> hang out.
> I'm talking about long and fruitless battles in a W3C working group  
> to find
> consent over a topic, where no consent is to be expected, except for  
> the
> case that someone gives up or leaves the group.

I understand, and Ive been there. But standards are going to be used  
by the whole planet, if they are to be of use. They should not be  
optimized for the sake of peace within the working group. The problems  
to which you refer are IMO an artifact of the "open" policy of the  
W3C, which creates huge unwieldy WGs which are impossible to keep  
focussed. RDF was made by a WG of less than 20 people: RIF had about  
60 in it. I wrote Common Logic myself, in a matter of months, with  
three or four others helping.

BTW, leaving the group is not always such a bad option, both for the  
protestor and for the group; though its embarrassing for the chair,  
which is why they try to avoid it.

> If someone is going to suggest to remove or even only deprecate a  
> certain
> feature from RDF, like containers, or reification, or RDF/XML, or  
> bNodes, or
> all the things that have been suggested in this discussion as  
> candidates for
> removal/deprecation, don't you think that there will be opposition  
> in the
> working group, by some members at least (which would be sufficient  
> according
> to W3C procedures), and if only for the generic reason that backwards
> compatibility has to be preserved by all means?

Well, there will be *some* opposition, yes, but at times you just have  
to put things to the vote, and some people lose. I lost several  
battles in the original RDF WG myself. Backwards compatibility is a  
big issue, but it is not a complete brick wall to all possible change,  
just something that needs to be taken very seriously. And there are  
ways to let things die quietly, especially if easy paths to a good  
replacement are provided.

> My suggestion was about avoiding those IMO otherwise unavoidable  
> battles, or
> at least for settling them when they will occur.

All W3C chairs should be required to read Lao Tzu and "The Prince"  
before the WG is convened.

>>> Maybe we should deprecate the "MAY" word from RFC 2119?
>> The point of MAY is not to licence options, but to delineate the
>> boundaries of what everyone has to agree is permitted. LIke I say, if
>> its permitted, and if that means that your engine has to be able to
>> cope with it somehow, then its not optional . If everyone MAY use one
>> of three syntaxes, and it says so in the spec, then every engine is
>> OBLIGED to be able to process all three of them. If the choice of
>> syntax is simply optional, then we will have three incompatible
>> communities, or the kind of chaos that we have now for RDF syntax.
>  <http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc2119.txt>
>  5. MAY   This word, or the adjective "OPTIONAL", mean that an item is
>     truly optional.  One vendor may choose to include the item  
> because a
>     particular marketplace requires it or because the vendor feels  
> that
>     it enhances the product while another vendor may omit the same  
> item.

I read this in my way. It all depends on what 'vendor' means. If we  
are talking about programming languages or browsers, then this is  
fairly clear: JAVA without some option is still JAVA. If we are  
talking about a standard for interchange, however, then what is a  
'vendor'? Who is a 'vendor' of HTML?


> Looks, as if there are different readings...
>> Pat
> Best,
> Michael
> --
> Dipl.-Inform. Michael Schneider
> Research Scientist, Information Process Engineering (IPE)
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Received on Friday, 15 January 2010 23:33:40 UTC

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