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

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> 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
> 1997.
> 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
> Languages:
> http://www.holoweb.net/~liam/papers/2002-xmlr-extreme-markup-montreal/
> 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.

If the questions arise that RDF has foisted the concepts of URI and
namespaces on to the XML world, what do we see as an alternative to both? In
what way is URI a taint, and what would be an alternative to prevent
collision if we didn't have namespaces?

I realize that these are tired and old questions that have been hacked in
the past, again and again. However, perhaps with the new RDF spec releases,
now is good time to revisit them. Or not, and just accept that the damage
has been done and move on best we can.

As for myself, I don't see XML as messy, but I am a data person, and I do
look for a meta-data structure when I want to work with data, even data
that's organized with markup. This interest of mine in meta-data existed
long before XML was a twinkle in Tim Bray's eye, and long before someone
said, "Hey! What the world needs now is RDF, sweet RDF."

Because of this interest, it is more likely that I will see RDF/XML as a
fulfillment to my tech needs rather than straight XML. Doesn't make RDF
'good' and XML 'bad', just makes the one more attractive for me.

> 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.

Is there really that much of a divide? I've used straight XML processing,
RSS, and RDF processing with a RSS 1.0 document and found all three tool
sets to be quite easy. My preference was the RDF tool set because I was able
to use the least amount of code. I am that ultimate of a good programmer --
a lazy one.

Personally, I don't think XML should be impacted by RDF (or RDF/XML) in
anyway. I think this is a huge mistake. XML is a meta-language, and as such,
shouldn't be impacted by structures built on top of it. Telling people
"Well, if you just do this and this and that and that and this and don't
forget to do _that_" to coerce them into ensuring their XML is
RDF-compliant, when they don't see a need or a purpose for it, is a mistake.
That's not the way to promote the use of RDF, and is nothing more than a way
of winning enemies and disinfluencing friends. The resulting effort will
reflect this, becoming nothing more than a bastardized, incomplete, piss
poor instantiation of RDF/XML.

Years ago, I saw this same attitude about the relational data model in my
work converting network-based or hierarchical-based databases over to RDBMS.
I would see tables that were nothing more than an exact copy of the previous
implementations, guaranteeing the absolute worst performing databases in the
entire world. A case of using the technology because one is forced to,
rather than using the technology because its use is right and proper and one
takes the time to use it carefully and correctly.

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

Well, that's cool. I promise that when RDF and I head out for a night of
swinging, and hit the dance floor to cut a rug, I promise not to step on XML
toes in my exuberance. And no slammin' either.



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