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

My comments on the so-called "Social meaning issue" (as chair - see 
caveats in my note of Jan 20, 12:30 EST [1]) -- note also that the 
comments below should be very strictly construed as only addressing 
the state of our DOCUMENTS and not in any way commenting on any other 
actions the group may wish to take with respect to this issue

The issue of social meaning is clearly a difficult one, with strongly 
held beliefs in both directions.  I expect it to be a much-discussed 
item of RDF Core's Last Call, and I encourage members of our WG, as 
individuals and/or as representatives of their member organizations 
(when appropriate) to weigh in.

That said, I believe that our DOCUMENTS do NOT actually need any 
changes to address this issue, and that we are largely uneffected by 
this decision with respect to publishing - therefore I propose our 
group simply not address this issue in the form of any specific 
action before going to Last Call.

My rationale for the above is (based on the many messages in this thread)
   i. It appears to me that  the primary difficulty brought up with 
social meaning is that it can occur in the comment fields of rdf 
documents in natural language (i.e. what [2] refers to as "opaque to 
logical reasoners").  However, these fields do not use the OWL 
namespace and are not mandated for use in OWL.  Thus, the OWL 
ontology creator is expected to read theappropriate  RDF and/or RDFS 
documents before using any features from those languages.  An OWL 
ontology document creator who does not wish to embrace the "social 
meaning" issue is never mandated to use rdfs: features that 
contribute to anything other than those necessary for the logical 
meaning of OWL (c.f. rdfs:property and the like).  Thus, this issue, 
while important to those in the OWL WG as individuals, is not 
mandated by OWL use and does not necessitate action with respect to 
   ii. the second aspect of the RDF meaning as defined in [2] is that 
there is an expectation that by publishing something on the Semantic 
Web (as on the HTML-powered web) one takes responsibility for it.  I 
haven't yet heard anyone proposing that this wouldn't be the case in 
the formal meaning of OWL and, again, it seems to me that no action 
is needed here - those wishing  not to take legal responsibility for 
what they say in their ontologies are not forced to  publish them on 
the open net (same as those wishing to avoid legal responsibility for 
what they say in their HTML documents - i.e. it is a publishing 
issue, not a document language issue).  Again, it appears to me that 
our current DOCUMENTS do not need to take a stand on this issue 

Please note - the above are not intended to be contentious or to 
reflect my personal opinions - I've tried to be as objective as I 
can.  Basically, I am suggesting as chair that whether or not RDF 
Core ends up containing section 4.0 in [2] (the "Meaning of RDF" 
section) does not immediately impact OUR DOCUMENTS - which is my 
primary concern with respect to moving to Last Call.

Also Note: the decision as to whether the group wishes to make a 
consensus statement with respect to this issue during the RDF Core LC 
period is not addressed pro or con in the above)

(section 4.2)

Professor James Hendler
Director, Semantic Web and Agent Technologies	  301-405-2696
Maryland Information and Network Dynamics Lab.	  301-405-6707 (Fax)
Univ of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742	  240-731-3822 (Cell)

Received on Monday, 20 January 2003 13:13:10 UTC