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Fw: Longish: RE: RDF/XML/Internet Collisons, Process (was Moving on)

From: Tim Berners-Lee <timbl@w3.org>
Date: Fri, 2 Jun 2000 22:13:20 -0400
Message-ID: <02ec01bfcd01$4a000580$a60a1712@col.w3.org>
To: "Dan Brickley" <danbri@w3.org>
Cc: <sw99@w3.org>
There was more to his message than my original forwarding.

-----Original Message-----
From: Bill dehOra <wdehora@cromwellmedia.co.uk>
To: 'Tim Berners-Lee' <timbl@w3.org>
Date: Thursday, June 01, 2000 7:49 AM
Subject: Longish: RE: RDF/XML/Internet Collisons, Process (was Moving on)

>I'll respond thru email, since it may off topic for the uri list. Your post
>has re-triggered thoughts of mine from www9. There is no real need to reply
>to this (it meanders), I would be sufficiently gratified to know that you
>read it.
>The main reason I went to www9 was to ask you what the semantic web was, as
>my IChing told me to find a great man. I wanted to do this at the Friday
>lunch, but wound up offering a badly phrased answer to someone else's
>question (Murray, who gave me the mike was deeply unimpressed: but hey, I'm
>a conference newbie, and nobody else seemed to have any answers :).
>As things panned out Eric Miller gave a presentation on lifting thematic
>Topic Maps from multiple sites after lunch, at which the long awaited
>epiphany occurred (my IChing hedged its bets: it didn't tell me which great
>man). So I talked to Eric Miller awhile, and basically told him that the
>questions and troubles I had wanted to air at the session. But they seemed
>too trivial (I am a coward), in light of the way the open forum had gone.
>left me in no doubt that what was going on with the semantic web was the
>right thing to do, and the way forward was in building tools and lashings
>What I wanted to ask were the following:
>-would it be posible to hang a normative glossary off the RDF(s) docs, in
>particular to clarify the following terms:
> reification
> resource
>so that I can go to that glossary and say 'ah, this is what they mean
>by...'. Right now I have to explain to myself that reification is a bit
>the way set families work. If the set S is {{X,Y,Z}, B, C} then C is an
>element of S, but X isn't. or maybe it's like using corner quotes in logic
>to distinguish between uses and mentions. You see, I don't really trust
>myself to understand other peoples meanings properly without some
>-would it be possible to get a straight forward non-normative explanation
>why RDFs has a flattened type system with one cycle in its definitions (ie
>why does it have the same cycle that the Smalltalk-80 object model has).
>-does the XML syntax really have to be like that? What's wrong with just
>adopting your simplified syntax? Much of the complexity of RDF is in the
>Schema, but the slight obtuseness of the XML in the Model, can easily be
>seen as complex and prevent people seeing the elegance of the Model itself.
>I remind you that many developers will look at the XML and think that *is*
>RDF. Somehow the UML community have not fallen into this hole. No-one
>(except CASE engineers) confuses a UML diagram with running code.
>:I am not sure we don't *need* to sell everyone on RDF.  Many
>:projects are now getting on board.
>I emphatically disagree with this. If I ever saw a technology that needs to
>hit a crystallisation point, that needs positive network feedback effects
>succeed, it's RDF. What RDF can be used for is more important than the *ML
>family of languages. It's not at that point yet, and can still fail. RDF
>requires ubiquity and democracy as much as HTML ever did. It seems more
>important to get it used than get it right.
>-Assuming it will succeed without much push. 'Hey, it's obvious and
>-Bad public relations work. By this I mean not speaking to the mass of
>developers and users of the web, who are not KR/Agent/Logic/AI people. Dan
>Brickley said at the semantic web developer day that the RDF standard was
>'somewhat schizophrenic'. This is only a bad thing if we insist that one
>personality is the real one.
>-The 'Not Ontologised Here' (NOH) mindset in the world that shouldn't been
>-Not unrelated to NOH is 'I don't need all this hard stuff, why can't I
>use XML?'. This can be a difficult question to answer.
>-The major search engines have RDF processors, since they are using dumps
>from the open directory. You can extrapolate what might happen if they
>announced a preference for RDF metadata from some of the bigger sites.
>-When/if AOL adopts mozilla XUL as a UI rendering tool, most non-desktop
>browsing systems will imitate, and carry RDF data storage with them.
>-RDF doesn't require a killer app, just the crystallisation point.
>-The AI and Agents communities will accept it, when they realise that loads
>and loads of useful and usable information (that's what hits our switches
>really, hacking around non-interop is just excruciating) is being stored as
>:I agree RDF needs better explanations and materials. As always it is
>:really difficult to knkow how to spend limited resources.
>So, here are my pleadings to you, in light of limited resources:
>-For the next versions of RDF, have three reccs, Model, Serialization,
>Schema. in other words formally separate the Model from the XML entirely.
>-Have normative glossaries.
>-Persuade someone to write an RDF book, or get a publisher to request for
>authors. Books tend to make technologies 'real', the way TV makes events
>'real'. I bet O' Reilly or Wrox would publish on it.
>-Speak more to the masses on RDF/XML. The logicians and librarians aready
>get it and are sold for the most part. I'm not sure about Authors and
>Developers. Emphasize RDF/XML serialization as a really good way to
>catalogues and store and interop 'stuff about stuff'. The cool stuff *will*
>follow if there  a a bedrock of RDF to mine from. The difference, if you
>will, between saying something about something and anything about anything,
>is purely a matter of time.
>I'm selfish really. RDF can help me realise my two pet 'projects'. I hope
>someday to build agents that read and speak and think (in RDF) on your
>behalf, and can cut the signal to noise ratio of information to human scale
>levels. I also hope that someday I can build tools that allow people to
>answers from people the way they find answers from documents today (like a
>opt-in Borg). In the meantime I'm happy to write tools to build boring old
>catalogues, as my current mission is to make my company 'get it', and small
>steps are the best way. But next year I can have some fun with the
>-Bill de hÓra
Received on Friday, 2 June 2000 22:11:57 UTC

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