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RDF/XML/Internet Collisons, Process (was Moving on)

From: Simon St.Laurent <simonstl@simonstl.com>
Date: Tue, 30 May 2000 10:40:12 -0400
Message-Id: <200005301438.KAA18983@hesketh.net>
To: "Tim Berners-Lee" <timbl@w3.org>, <xml-uri@w3.org>
[This is a set of side issues TimBL brought up in the Moving on thread.
They're important, but I fear that they could muddy that discussion in
communal violence, so I've separated them.]

>What do we do, for example, when the RDF group has a commitment from the XML
>community, and then in a public list does not feel any responsability to
>uphold that?

This sounds like you're feeling hurt.  Could you explain what that
'commitment from the XML community' means - I don't think the XML community
was ever asked per se to commit to RDF, and I don't quite understand your

I've attempted to address this issue repeatedly through discussions of
layering, but you seem to find that inadequate for reasons I can't fathom.

In general, the W3C might do well to 'sell' RDF more strongly, rather than
hoping the larger XML and Web communities will develop interest on their
own.  That might mean reconsidering RDF and making it more approachable,
among other possibilities. 

RDF's core community is still quite small, and while it overlaps with the
XML community, there are many members of the wider XML implementation
community who have never even heard of RDF, much less attempted to read the
specifications or develop software.

>In the IETF, there was (and stiull may be) very strong peer pressure not to
>break other systems, and very strong peer pressure to stick to the
>principles of design on which the Internet had been
>built.   The web now spans two very strong cultures: the Intrenet culture,
>and the SG/X-ML culture,each with their own set of techncial mores,
>vocabularies, etc. Also, the web has added
>a few more maxims to its own culture.

I'm not sure that the SGML/XML community and 'Internet culture' are that
different, though they bring different sets of tools to the table.  I've
suggested repeatedly that both communities need to accept the likelihood of
change as these technologies cross, and that the changes may reach the
core.  Resistance to change appears to be a similarity across both of these
groups, though the XML community strikes me as a bit more fluid, perhaps
because it's already an intersection.

Namespaces seem to have felt like the Internet culture inflicting its
toolset on the SGML/XML community (and a partial replacement for
Architectural Forms), at least to a certain part of the community, while
the IETF-XML-MIME types list has battled repeatedly over how well or poorly
XML fits into the existing MIME infrastructure.  These are very difficult
issues to resolve peaceably, though some kind of resolution is necessary.

>With authority comes responsability.  One cannot give public accountability
>of a form which allows a random veto by those only interested in part of the
>system, and "alergic" to other parts (as you put it).    

A good issue to address, though the way you phrase it displays your own
biases vividly:
>One cannot give public accountability
>of a form which allows a random veto by those only interested in part of the
>system, and "alergic" to other parts (as you put it). 

If this were to reflect my own perspective, it might have read:
|One cannot give public accountability of a form which allows a 
|random veto by those individuals and corporations who happen 
|to be in positions of control, at the expense of communities 
|that have spent considerable effort developing best practices.

Reconciling those two will be difficult, of course.  Balancing top-down
directed development with organically unmanaged bottom-up development is
rarely a fun job.

>I think some form
>of public issues list with incoming issues automatically logged, and
>disposition including hypertext links to the resolution, may be a good
>interface between a working group and a wider public interest group.

Sounds like a good idea, one I'd like to see the W3C put in practice across
all of its activities.  That'd help, certainly.

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, 30 May 2000 10:38:07 UTC

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