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Re: RDF and XML

From: Al Gilman <asgilman@iamdigex.net>
Date: Tue, 23 May 2000 14:34:02 -0500
Message-Id: <Version.32.20000523135523.03fe1f00@pop.iamdigex.net>
To: xml-uri@w3.org
At 11:49 AM 2000-05-23 -0400, Simon St.Laurent wrote:
>At 11:39 AM 5/23/00 -0500, Al Gilman wrote:
>>What I would like to hear, here, is Simon's description of "what RDF is
>>trying to do" that we could then test for consensus.  I am concerned that
>>Dan, just like all the rest of us, may be confusing the details of what RDF
>>thought was necessary with what is actually necessary to fully realize
>>"what RDF is trying to do."
>[diving into the RDF specs and statements again - may be a while coming out]

No, I was not asking for you to gain fresh understanding of what RDF
actually does.  I wanted a one-paragraph expansion of where you said "I am
actually in favor of what RDF is trying to do."  What I wanted was just a
slightly expanded statement of what you support, and you casually interpret
as what RDF is trying to do.

>I'm not sure what we'll be testing for consensus, though, or whether we're
>now attempting to rewrite RDF.  That last task in particular in one I'd
>rather avoid.

Given the RDF allergy I sense among many XML practitioners, I am not so
eager to avoid this as you are.  I need semantics (see table or
diagram-contents examples) and I am not willing to be blocked by mistakes
in published Recs in the pursuit of this sort of justice.

>>For my clients, I am keenly interested that the XML community be more
>>pro-active in supporting "what RDF is trying to do."  
>In my (limited, personal) experience, most of the XML community - in its
>broadest sense - is pretty much unconcerned with RDF.  RDF is seen as
>arcana for computer science wizards, not as friendly tools for getting
>things done quickly.  

You have to understand where I sit astride the "reasonable accomodation"
calculus.  What I ask for doesn't have to be the ultimate _friendliest_ way
to get things done _quickly_.  It only has to be within spitting distance
on the 'friendly' and 'quickly' fronts and yield significantly more
effective documents as viewed through usability in disabled-use scenarios.
If it meets that test, it is my duty [under myh WAI hat] to get it on the
table for negotiation.  We may not win all these concessions, but the WAI
is mission-bound to ask for them.  In fact I believe that the Web
technology should give up _a little_ in terms of how easy it is to get
things done quickly, in order to make more of the Web content more usable
by people with disabilities.  And that the customers of web technology will
gain enough from the curb-cut effect of doing things better for lots of
people so that the loss in terms of doing things easily is more than paid
for.  How much and how is up for discussion.  But I need to get PWD access
on the trade-off agenda along with 'easy to do quickly' or I am not doing
my job.

>I suspect that most of the XML community is willing
>to be proactive to the extent of "RDF sounds like cool stuff that might be
>useful someday" but not to the extent that changes in existing XML specs
>for the sake of making RDF processing easier would be welcomed.
>>If there are tactical
>>blunders in RDF as designed that make it hard to get XML and "what RDF is
>>trying to do" up and running together, I need to know because those clauses

>>are no more unquestionable in my reading of the moral spreadsheet than is
>>the literal comparison of ns-attr's.
>It's not so much a matter of 'tactical blunders' as design choices that
>might not be appropriate to XML development in general and which I don't
>believe should be enforced on the larger world of XML.  I'll have more
>detail when I get back from my plunge into the specs.

Since RDF was trying to fill architecturally foundational shoes, any design
choices that are not appropriate for XML dialect development in general are
_defects_ as far as the W3C's satisfaction of WAI dependencies.  I need to
hear about them.  Please share any sub-optimalities and not just outright
failure modes you find.

>Technically, I think RDF can layer directly on top of XML and Namespaces
>without changes any of the specs.  

Good.  Rather, Great!

>Philosophically, it seems that some
>folks would like to see the assumptions made in RDF driven into the lower
>layers of XML, and that's what's led me to spend (waste?) so much time here.

I do like what you and others have done to put an arm's length of distance
between philosophical seemings and concrete action plans.  Even 'though I
believe we must always steer by the vision.  There are still several levels
of generic:specific indirection between the statement of the vision and the
definition of the next step.

As you may have noticed, part of my purpose is to refine the demands for
sematics-friendly XML architecture; so as to minimize the downsides
(discontinuous change in the lower layers, e.g.) and maximize the rate of
progress toward what will deliver more, and more accessible information, as
a consequence of the widespread use of more (and better) XML.


>Simon St.Laurent
>XML Elements of Style / XML: A Primer, 2nd Ed.
>Building XML Applications
>Inside XML DTDs: Scientific and Technical
>Cookies / Sharing Bandwidth
Received on Tuesday, 23 May 2000 14:22:29 UTC

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