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Using third-party vocabularies

From: Graham Klyne <GK@NineByNine.org>
Date: Mon, 25 Nov 2002 11:04:55 +0000
Message-Id: <>
To: "Jeremy Carroll" <jjc@hplb.hpl.hp.com>
Cc: "RDF Core" <w3c-rdfcore-wg@w3.org>

At 11:21 AM 11/21/02 +0100, Jeremy Carroll wrote:

>I would like further discussion about social meaning, particularly the clown

(Good questions...)

>Issues with that example include:
>   does using a term from another namespace implicitly import all of the
>triples used in the defining document?

Ah... I think not in the sense that RDF entailment is a relationship 
between RDF graphs, without reference to how those graphs are constructed 
from documents.  But then how are we to talk about the meaning of an RDF 
term as defined by some other person?  If we can say that the meaning of 
the term is defined by its 'owner' to be constrained by the given RDF 
assertions (asserted statements), then I think we can legitimately include 
those statements in the resulting graph.

>   does using a term (legally) commit one to everything said in the defining

(Nit:  well, we're not defining legal matters here.  What we are trying to 
convey is a sense that the meaning of some RDF depends on the meaning of 
terms defined by some other party.)

More importantly, I think RDF core is not specific about the relationship 
between published documents and asserted RDF graphs:  there are also social 
considerations involved.

>   relationship with owl:imports?

RDFcore does not depend on owl.  owl:imports might be defined in terms of 
RDF graph construction from referenced documents, which would thus define a 

>   if we don't have the example are we saying anything? or would any words be
>so woolly as to have no real significance.

It would be good to have words that would stand without the example, but 
that may prove to be a tall order

>A problem is that of how to find the defining triples and to discard other
>triples from the defining document.

I think that particular problem is out of scope for us...

>The long lengthy and tedious discussion of owl:imports in the other group is
>indicative of the difficulties.

... and maybe that indicates why it should be so.

>A particular problem with owl:imports is the significance of http errors and
>whether any meaning can depend on the absence of http 500 errors. (I don't
>care just trying to report the issues ...)
>This example started off life as a test case from Brian ("Would an expert
>witness be justified in testifying ..."), and was partially developed by

Yes... and the conditions that would justify an expert witness taking a 
particular view will depend on both the formal language definition and the 
social circumstances of its publication.

>I hope to have a editor's draft out later today. The example will still be
>in, but labelled (informative), the enclosing section is normative.

I agree that the example, if included, should be informative.


Related to all this, I think there is a legitimate caveat:  if one makes 
legally binding statements using language terms defined by some other 
party, then one would be well advised to confirm that they define the terms 
persistently in a fashion that corresponds to the expected meaning.   So, 
in important documents, one would probably limit oneself to using 
vocabulary defined by some reputable organization, or standards body, etc.


Graham Klyne
Received on Monday, 25 November 2002 09:35:43 UTC

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