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   Re: [xml-dev] RDF and the new releases

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shelleyp@burningbird.net (Shelley Powers) writes:
>If you don't understand it, and don't want to take the time to
>understand it, or don't feel it will buy you anything, or hate the
>acronym, or you're in a general bitchy mood that's easily triggered if
>someone uses "Semantic" in the same sentence that contains "Web", the
>solution is simple: don't use it. Don't use it. Don't study it, look
>at it, listen about it, work with it, sleep with it, or generally go
>out and dance late at night with it.

I have a lot of respect for certain RDF applications that appear to be
working, a general lack of interest in describing the world as graphs,
and a serious distaste for RDF syntax.   I genuinely resent what I see
as the unfortunate influence of RDF on XML's post-1.0 development and
the URI-centric viewpoint it has foisted on XML. 

At this point I've concluded that the RDF model is lovely so long as it
remains a model but not so lovely when it encounters XML.  I'm not sure
that using XML for RDF syntax was wise, though maybe it looked good in

More to the point, though, I have a hard time avoiding RDF because it
seems to have a regular and largely unpleasant impact on XML.  A lot of
this has been subtle but disastrous (namespaces), while some of the more
overt pieces are really just aggravating.  Probably the climax of that
for me was Liam Quin's "daily polemic" at this year's Extreme Markup

Fortunately, that's only a thought experiment, but it typifies to me how
people working with RDF see XML and say something like "that's so messy
and weak, and it needs cleaning up."  I compare XML to RDF and see an
organic whole that's evolved over the years standing next to a more
recently designed system that can't quite sort itself out.

I suppose that I do "dance late at night" with XML, and I really don't
want RDF to join that dance.  I've already spent a lot of nights dancing
with URIs, that deeply undercooked mire of supposed identification
goodness, and at this point I think I'd really like both URIs and the
URI-centric vision of RDF to stay away from the party completely.  If I
want to dance with them, I'll call them.  Since I don't, I'd much rather
that they not try to slip into XML's pockets.

>The RDF Working Group's efforts have been public and accessible from
>the beginning. They've always been open to comments and suggestions.
>There's not just one but at least three mailing lists associated with
>the RDF efforts, and others associated with peripheral efforts (such
>as RSS 1.0). I've never once not had any member of the working group
>not respond to one of my comments.

On that score I give the RDF Working Group a lot of credit for improving
the W3C.  They are definitely by far the most accessible (indeed
friendly) group there.

>I'm not a newbie with RDF so when I say that I have no problems
>working with it, and would never use straight XML in any of my
>applications because I find RDF to be easier to work with, you can
>take this with a grain of salt.

And odds are excellent that I'd never consider using RDF except in a
metadata application.  I'm much happier with approaches based on passing
marked-up documents than in assembling models and serializing them.

There's a serious divide between the two approaches.  I'm very impressed
by some of the people who do regularly cross between XML and RDF and
that they can keep their heads straight as they do so.  At the same
time, I regard it pretty much like the ability to cross cultures or
speak multiple languages, and I'm not convinced that XML has gained
anything by the cultural encounter.

RDF is powerful stuff, great for those who want to use it.  Just keep it
off _my_ dance floor, please.

Simon St.Laurent - SSL is my TLA
http://simonstl.com may be my URI
http://monasticxml.org may be my ascetic URI
urn:oid: is another possibility altogether


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