Lessons from the RSS and HLink wars

By now most of us are familiar with the years of fighting over RSS. My 
understanding is that the core syntactic (not philisophical) differences 
between the two parties are:

  1. the use of XML namespaces

  2. the requirement to use the RDF namespace and encoding in particular

Now we have the XLink/HLink war. The issues are similar, though with a 
much heavier weighting on 2. And in fact, recent developments in the RSS 
war also indicate that 1. is becoming increasingly acceptable and 2. is 
still a major killer sticking point. (I haven't followed closely so if 
I'm wrong, somebody please tell me)

The heat of this debate should give us all pause. Clearly people care 
deeply about the syntax of the XML namespaces they use and develop are 
not willing to tolerate much dictation from outside what the syntax 
should be. Perhaps it is not entirely coincidence that RDF and XLink are 
two really interesting technologies that have languished in obscurity 
and have left a very sour taste in many people's mouths.

We, the markup intelligensia can keep shoving these invasive 
"extensible", "generic" standards down people's throats but I don't 
think they're swallowing. Why the reluctance to give them want they want?

I've found the RDF people to be rather pragmatic:

"a lot of people are interested in exploring the use of XML
Schema annotations to map from more colloquial XML into RDF graphs. 
IMHO there's a major role for this approach too, so long as we have at 
least one syntax for RDF that takes the self-standing view..."

  * http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-rdf-interest/2002Sep/0114.html

If this thing had existed years ago then arguably the RSS war would 
never have had to happen. The UserLand XML syntax could be mapped to RDF 
using a generic mechanism and the RSS world could have its cake and eat 
it too.

Why not be similarly pragmatic about XLink? In fact, why not take the 
opportunity to devise a common mechanism for declaring mappings from 
domain-specific vocabularies to semantic vocabularies?

(of course using XML Schema is just one approach...one could imagine 
also using XPaths: 
or perhaps CSS, or architectural forms, or something else entirely)

  Paul Prescod

Received on Monday, 30 September 2002 19:07:34 UTC