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   RE: A certain difficulty

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  • From: Mark Birbeck <Mark.Birbeck@iedigital.net>
  • To: xml-dev@xml.org, www-rdf-interest@w3.org
  • Date: Wed, 23 Feb 2000 11:26:35 -0000

Bill dehOra wrote:
> I don't see that. I see a group of engineers who had a problem doing
> modelling. Modelling is hard work and requires certain 
> skills. It seems
> naive to expect that people will automatically generate good 
> to reasonable
> RDF models just because RDF exists, in the same we can't expect well
> designed web pages because HTML exists. Not that RDF doesn't have its
> faults, it does, but RDF is only a language, it won't teach you how to
> speak.

Fair enough, but I think the thrust of the initial point was that if
people have difficulties with RDF it may slow its implementation. I
concur. I am very surprised, for example, that RDF wasn't used in the
implementation of WebDAV. Of course it might have been considered and
rejected - but it might just have been seen as irrelevant. (This is not
the same as saying WebDAV can be used to control RDF. WebDAV can be used
to control anything.) There are other examples - books from leading
authors that give a few paragraphs to RDF and then say "it's too
complicated for our needs, so we'll invent our own technique". Even
great new software releases that have implemented XLink but not touched

As it happens I think RDF is nowhere near as difficult as people think.
And it is incredibly significant. I don't think it's an exaggeration to
say that RDF and RDFS will become *the* most important XML technologies
as we try to build a web of information - not presentation. In fact if
you re-read all the hype and 'promises' of XML, you'll find that XML on
it's own cannot actually implement them - RDF can.

A comment was made about RDF breaking the rules of XML in relation to
URIs - because RDF is obsessed with resources. That is what makes it so
powerful! XML can help you with relationships between nodes that are
under your control, and XLink can be used for nodes under someone
else's. But RDF lets you make statements about other people's
*resources*, and someone else can make statements about yours.

With RDF *the web has no centre*. With XML the web is set of hierarchies
- albeit starting from your point of view, or my point of view, or
someone else's. It's a bit of a leap in the imagination when not only
your data is a set of linked resources (RDF), but the structural
definition of that data is too (RDFS)! But the power is amazing.

Enough evangelising.

Best regards,


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