Re: issues to be resolved before last call (rdfms-assertion)

I think there are other points and I'm borrowing the
following from Pat as I couldn't express it better...

The point is that publication of RDF, when considered
as a social act, constitutes a publication of some content
which is defined by whatever normal *social* conditions
are used by the publishers of any terms in the RDF to
define the meanings of those terms, even if those meanings
and definitions are not accessible to the formal semantics
of RDF; and, moreover, those meanings are *preserved* under
any formally sanctioned inference processes. In a nutshell,
the formal entailments of social meanings are themselves
part of the social meaning.
The point is also that we cannot use a single notion of
'meaning' to say this properly, since of course the formal
entailments cannot themselves utilize the social aspects
of meaning which are included in *informal* aspects of the
publication, such as in a comment which is opaque to any
likely RDF inference engine or machine processor. Social
meanings can be, as it were, transferred or carried by
formal entailments, but they cannot be incorporated into
the formal entailments.

-- ,
Jos De Roo, AGFA

                    Christopher Welty                                                                                  
                    <>       To:                                              
                    Sent by:                 cc:                                                                       
                    www-webont-wg-requ       Subject:     Re: issues to be resolved before last call (rdfms-assertion) 
                    2003-01-18 03:43                                                                                   

I completely agree with Peter here.

I've read the relevant documents on the RDF side and I am in quite a state
of shock.  This has NOTHING TO DO with OWL, (or with RDF for that matter).
 You simply can not, as a matter of course, define as part of a language
how much responsibility people have for what they say in that language.
That is not the role of technology, nor of standards.  It is the role of
law.  The W3C is not a law-making body, not in the US nor anywhere else in
the world.

Dr. Christopher A. Welty, Knowledge Structures Group
IBM Watson Research Center, 19 Skyline Dr.
Hawthorne, NY  10532     USA
Voice: +1 914.784.7055,  IBM T/L: 863.7055
Fax: +1 914.784.6078, Email:

"Peter F. Patel-Schneider" <>
Sent by:
01/17/2003 10:33 AM

        Subject:        Re: issues to be resolved before last call

From: Dan Connolly <>
Subject: Re: issues to be resolved before last call (rdfms-assertion)
Date: Fri, 17 Jan 2003 09:18:38 -0600

> On Fri, 2003-01-17 at 08:15, Peter F. Patel-Schneider wrote:
> [...]
> > I would prefer it if the OWL documents could be silent on this issue,
> > let usage, convention, etc., determine social meaning, as they have
> > done.
> The risks associated with doing that are unacceptably high, to me.
> Namely, that people will claim that offers for sale, privacy
> and security policies, etc. *do not* have their usual
> social meaning (i.e. that their authors can be held accountable
> for thier contents) when written in OWL.
> This risk has already materialized for P3P.
> For an elaborate rationale, see TimBL's essay...
> "Bits mean something."
>  -- The Stack of Specifications
>  Tim Berners-Lee Date: 2002/05,
>  last change: $Date: 2003/01/06 19:40:09 $
>  Status: personal view only. Editing status: rough..
> For reference, the RDF Core issue most closely related to
> what Peter and Lynn are discussing is
> >   However, the RDF Concepts document normatively states that the
> > entire social meaning of an RDF document is a part of the RDF meaning
> > that document.
> Yes, that's as it should be. The RDF and OWL WGs are
> in the W3C Technology and Society domain for a reason:
> to see that the technologies are properly connected
> to the social systems around them.
> >   Therefore I believe that the OWL documents must explicitly
> > disavow this view.
> That's unacceptable to me.
> > peter
> --
> Dan Connolly, W3C

I find that the risks of incorporating any and all social meaning into the
official meaning of RDF and OWL document to be unacceptable to me.  I
believe that they will be unacceptable to Lucent as well, and also to just
about any legal entity.

Note that the impact of social meaning is that any RDF document that
uses a URIref includes the entirety of the social meaning of any document
that can be found by dereferencing the URIref.   See Section 4.5 of the
Concepts document for a particularly informative example.

Peter F. Patel-Schneider
Bell Labs Research
Lucent Technologies

Received on Saturday, 18 January 2003 08:18:30 UTC