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Fwd: To RDF or not to RDF, that is the (perennial) question

From: Danny Ayers <danny.ayers@gmail.com>
Date: Fri, 7 Jan 2005 14:01:36 +0100
Message-ID: <1f2ed5cd0501070501278bdced@mail.gmail.com>
To: www-rdf-interest@w3.org
Cc: antone@geckotribe.com

The post below is from the atom-syntax list
(http://www.imc.org/atom-syntax/). I think the first couple of
paragraphs are relevant for anyone interested in SW

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Antone Roundy <antone@geckotribe.com>
Date: Thu, 6 Jan 2005 10:18:10 -0700
Subject: To RDF or not to RDF, that is the (perennial) question
To: atom-syntax@imc.org

On Thursday, January 6, 2005, at 07:50  AM, Danny Ayers wrote:
> The potential benefits of RSS 1.0-like extensibility have often been
> stated on-list. One regular counter-argument has been along the lines
> of "I don't see what that buys us" (usually from Dare ;-), which has
> usually prompted yet another rewording of what it does buy us.

Part of the problem is that the benefits of RDF are often explained in
language that, while I assume it's clear to people conversant with RDF,
is only vaguely comprehensible, and that with effort, to those of us
who aren't.  From time to time I catch a glimpse of the value of RDF,
but I doubt that I've ever really seen the big picture.  I see two
pages on the wiki addressing the RDF or not question
(http://www.intertwingly.net/wiki/pie/NoToRdf and
http://www.intertwingly.net/wiki/pie/XmlAndRdf), but neither strikes me
as being a good "the big picture of RDF benefits for non-RDF speakers"

Another part of the problem is that some people simply don't care about
the benefits that RDF offers.  While I'm sure the benefits are more
than worth cost of RDF syntax to those who do care about those
benefits, they are not for those who don't.  Is there a way to
reconcile the needs of the two groups?

I see four possible futures:

1) Atom does not use RDF and is not defined and constrained in a way
that makes it easy to convert to RDF (including elements from other
namespaces).  This would make Atom significantly less useful to those
who care about RDF's benefits.

2) Atom does not use RDF, but it is defined and constrained in ways
that make it easy to convert to RDF (including extensions).  This
should be at least minimally acceptable to pretty much everyone.

3) Atom uses RDF, adding a lot of syntactic overhead and/or variability
to its structure.  This would make Atom significantly less appealing to
those who aren't conversant with RDF and/or using RDF-aware tools.

4) Atom uses RDF, but the way documents are structured is constrained
to a subset of how RDF can be structured so that it doesn't require
RDF-aware tools to process, and the amount of overhead added by the RDF
syntax is minimal.  This should be at least minimally acceptable to
pretty much everyone.

Which of #1 and #2 are we closest to right now?  Is #2 or #4
achievable?  If so, which is preferable?  I'd like to aim for #2, but
if the overhead and obfuscation in the eyes of non-RDF speakers of #4
is truly minimal (I suspect that RDF speakers and non-RDF speakers
would have very different definitions of "truly minimal"), I'd have no
complaints about going that route.  Also, in either case, if working
toward a particular solution significantly increases our time to
completion, that's a major strike against it.


Received on Friday, 7 January 2005 13:01:37 UTC

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