W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > w3c-rdfcore-wg@w3.org > March 2003

Re: Social meaning discussion 6th March

From: Graham Klyne <GK@NineByNine.org>
Date: Tue, 04 Mar 2003 14:08:57 +0000
Message-Id: <>
To: Tim Berners-Lee <timbl@w3.org>
Cc: RDF Core <w3c-rdfcore-wg@w3.org>


I thought I understood something of what you were looking for, but now I'm 

I really think we should separate this idea of the meaning of a statement 
defined by its predicate from the other issue of social meaning.

In an earlier draft of Concepts, I tried to capture this idea of a 
statement's meaning being somehow primarily defined by its predicate, but I 
couldn't make it fly.  In the final analysis, the meaning of a statement is 
defined by its predicate, subject *and* object;  despite trying, I have 
failed to really find any sense in which a predicate dominates over the 
other parts.

I had thought that the issue you tried to raise was that the purpose of an 
RDF document was to be more than just a bag-of-bits, that its publisher 
should expect to be held responsible for its content.  Your message here 
seems to ignore that aspect completely.


At 11:47 AM 2/28/03 -0500, Tim Berners-Lee wrote:
>I am concerned that you have thrown out the baby with the bathwater.
>And still left some bathwater. ;-)
>Our views do seem rather different
>What is required, and easy, is to say what an RDF document means.
>What is not required and a bad idea is to explain how to use it.
>1. The meaning of an RDF document is that of the statements.
>2. The meaning of the statement is defined by the definition
>of the predicate, as applying to the subject and object identified by the
>  definition of the subject and object terms.
>That then hands off to the relevant specs the right and the duty to
>define their bit.
>sans chapeau.
>Brian McBride wrote:
>>Sans chapeau:
>>My bath time this morning was spent thinking about social meaning.  I 
>>came to the conclusion that 'meaning' is a difficult and slippery a 
>>concept that we should try to stay away from, sticking to things that are 
>>more concrete.  We should leave talk about 'meaning' to the philosophers.
>There we differ.  For me, the meaning of a bit-field or a docuemnt or a packet
>or a message is what specs are for.
>>Perhaps we can get all we need by describing intended use.
>That is where you start getting into questionable stuff, necessarily
>slanting the use of RDF some way.
>If  my:car :color :blue means that my car is colored blue, that
>is what it means, quite independent of context.
>The concept of  something having a given color is
>defined (and only defined) by the definition of color
>and my:car only serves to idetify the car and  :blue only
>serves to identify the color.  Documents defiing
>my:car and :blue may contain all kinds of other info but they
>have nothing which related to the statement at hand apart to
>identify the subject and object.  (You can't for example
>define ":blue" to mean "A color which which  things have it
>they are rough to touch".)  So this is an important distintion.
>It is in the MT as the extension of p being a  the  THINGS x THINGS
>or words to that effect.
>The statement  doesn't mean that I am promising anything,
>or selling anything etc.   It says and should say nothing about the context in
>which it is used - that is Somebody Else's Problem.
>RDF has nothing to say about lying or cheating or repainting cars,
>about quoting statements or sending them as attachments and so on.
>It only says what they mean per se.
>>And then I see this is exactly what Jeremy has done in his draft 
>>alternative text.
>>   http://www.w3.org/2001/sw/meetings/tech-200303/social-meaning
>>This is a significant shift in approach that may have considerable merit, 
>>and I wanted to draw attention to it.
>>The mininalist approach looks good too, though we might go a bit further:
>>   1 An RDF triple is intended to be used to represent an assertion
>I have no idea what that gives me.
>>   2 A set of RDF triples is intended to be used to represent the 
>> conjunction of the assertions represented by each individual triple
>strike "is indended to be used"  which just seems to add fuzziness.
>>   3 The assertion represented by an RDF triple is determined by the 
>> specifications of its subject, predicate and object.
>This is muddled and ignored the fundamental case that we are talking about 
>and not s(p,o).
>>   4 RDF triples representing false assertions SHOULD NOT be used to mislead.
>Nor should one cross the road without looking, or take wooden nickels.
>>The above being non-normative.
>>I'm not happy with 4.  RDF triples representing true assertions SHOULD 
>>NOT be used to mislead either, yet "RDF triples SHOULD NOT be used to 
>>mislead" is vacuous.  So maybe strike 4, though I'm inclined to leave it in.
>>At 00:02 27/02/2003 +0100, you wrote:
>>>BCC-ed to three groups, sorry for duplicates.
>>>I have put together a preliminary agenda for this session to be found at:
>>>Note I suggest reading the relevant text and Bijan's comments on it as
>>>I would particularly welcome feedback if the list of issuettes is 
>>>(I have tried to include substantial concerns rather than ones that could be
>>>addressed by editorial changes).

Graham Klyne
PGP: 0FAA 69FF C083 000B A2E9  A131 01B9 1C7A DBCA CB5E
Received on Tuesday, 4 March 2003 10:21:09 UTC

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.4.0 : Friday, 17 January 2020 20:24:21 UTC