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   Re: [xml-dev] Why RDF is hard

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>I don't think the problem is as simple as "what RDF does is hard."
>For me, the problem with RDF is the demands it places on me for keeping
>track of the structures described.  Invariably, when I look at
>information stored in RDF (or a Topic Map) in a graphical form, the
>connections make sense, the overall structure or lack thereof is very
>clear.  When I look at the same information in its raw RDF document
>form, I start to mutter about people who are too damn smart creating
>models which are suitable only for computers and people who can think
>like computers.

>I find markup very human - even annoyingly human.  I just came back from
>a meeting where I showed off some SVG maps but really wowed them with
>the raw XML used to store the data.  I never mentioned or explained XML,
>but I didn't have to - they were looking at the marked-up data and
>comparing it to the SVG and performing their own transformations.  Then
>they asked if they could add X, Y, and Z or put it into Excel/SPSS/etc.
>and were happy that the answer was yes.
>(Given that I hadn't finished the demo, this was very gratifying, but to
>Embedded markup, whatever its sins may be, is very good at making things
>explicit.  I can usually look at a well-designed document and keep track
>of even complicated hierarchical relationships and even the occasional
>ID/IDREF connection.  I can't do that with most RDF - when I have to
>think about it in terms that go beyond simple markup the overhead of
>keeping track of the pieces makes the effort outweigh the benefits.
>I don't think the RDF community has ever really understood that what
>they do is genuinely difficult for most people.  The RDF community seems
>very self-selecting to me - those who can cope with RDF like it, and the
>rest of us keep our distance.  I'm not sure it's ever been clear to
>people who find RDF intuitive why so many people bounce off of it
>completely, and I'm not convinced that it's possible to explain that to
>someone who genuinely likes RDF.
>I guess we'll see if this message generates the usual "but you're wrong
>about RDF it's so simple and clear" messages that previous efforts to
>state the same thesis have garnered.

Simon, RDF wasn't easy for me. I don't think it's easy for anyone. 
And there have been more times then I can tell you getting irritated 
at the tangents among the discussions related to RDF about the more 
esoteric elements of same. However, I could understand a pay-back to, 
and the power of, something such as RDF. As soon as I started writing 
about XML (first published in January, 1998 on it), I knew that one 
thing XML would eventually need is a meta-model or all we would ever 
have is isolated little XML vocabularies all over the place, and 
absolutely no inter-operation between them because there is no 
general agreement on the elements, and how they relate to each other.

Is RDF clear and easy? Not a chance. But does this make its value 
less? Might as well take away the value of Perl (which some people 
find too cryptic), or C++ (which some people find too difficult), or 
any other technology that can have a steep learning curve.

If RDF was easy, we wouldn't need the six documents to describe it. I 
wouldn't need to write the book on it. We wouldn't need examples, or 
test cases, or tools. But none of this makes the value of RDF less; 
it just makes the challenge of using it effectively greater.


>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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