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

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>Once again, we see that the W3C process is simply deaf to fundamental
>criticisms. W3C working groups are pretty good about accepting minor
>corrections and suggestions for improvements within the frameworks
>they've laid out. However, they absolutely cannot hear when a chorus
>of voices is screaming that the framework itself is bad, will not
>support the weight they're trying to lay on it, and should be torn

As I understand the remit for the WGs is to work within a given scope. The
tearing down you suggest seems beyond what might be considered a reasonable
scope. Do you expect an XXXML WG to decide 'ok, no more XXXTML'? Well,
perhaps this *should* be within their scope.

There has been substantial criticism here and elsewhere, and no-one in their
right might would say that RDF hasn't got it's faults. But I'm afraid the
screaming voices are largely in your head. There has also been a lot said in
favour of RDF - but perhaps you haven't heard those voices through the
screams. The fact is that RDF is supporting the weight people are laying on
it quite nicely, and to tear down something that works (however imperfectly)
and is already in use, without a better alternative seems plain daft.

>The comments that have been raised here are very substantive.
>Ignoring them will either lead to people ignoring RDF or to people
>having massive problems as a result of adopting RDF.

To some extent I agree. But quite a lot of people have already adopted RDF
(I'm using it myself), and the 'massive problems' simply aren't evident. I
vaguely remember a good while ago reading something like a faq that you'd
written regarding a technology that was new and possibly controversial at
the time (XML? perhaps Java?), and your approach was to roll up your sleeves
and see what it could do. Perhaps if you tried the same approach with RDF
you might be pleasantly surprised.

>>I thought it might be nice for the RDF critics to be reminded of the
>>personal work and effort that has gone into this specification, this RDF
>>that generates so much passion. Perhaps you might spare a moment or to
>>consider that you might, just might, not be able to do better at
>a meta-data
>>strategy yourselves if given the opportunity.
>None of this is a justification for foisting a bad spec on the world.

True. But the ultimate tests of a spec are whether it is usable, and whether
or not people are prepared to use it. RDF is usable, and people are using
it. It may not be a perfect spec, but that could be said about pretty much
anything we use daily. I don't believe the word 'foisting' is particularly
applicable either - I'm using RDF because it offers the best solution to a
particular set of practical problems. If DOM or RDBMS or whatever had
provided a better solution, I'd have used that.

>First principle: do no harm. No matter how much work has gone into
>the spec, if it's  fundamentally broken, kill it, no matter who's
>toes you step on. That will always waste less work than moving on
>with a harmful spec.

I agree. I just don't think this applies in this case.

>The DOM working group is one of the few to have learned this lesson.
>They did kill abstract schemas. If only the namespaces, RDF, schemas,
>XSLT 2, and query groups could learn the same lesson.
>I'm wondering if there needs to be a new step in the W3C process that
>attempts to determine whether a spec has achieved reasonable
>consensus. A spec that has failed to do so would be rejected, at
>least for a while. If in the interrim the  technology achieved
>adoption and proved to be a good idea, eventually consensus would be
>reached. However, looking at the two specs that have been passed over
>significant opposition (Namespaces and Schemas), experience indicates
>that a lot more weight needs to be given to dissenting voices than is
>now the case. I think more than a simple majority should be required
>to move a spec forward, and there should be an opportunity for
>non-working group members other than Tim Berners-Lee to veto a spec.

I don't have a problem with your ideas on improving these processes. But I
don't personally think that RDF would have been halted at the preliminary
stage as you describe though - there were gaping holes in the original, but
a lot of people saw the potential and were prepared to start using it, warts
and all. The WG has done a fine job, fixing most of the problems.

Your argument seems to be essentially "it's a bad spec, ditch it". Ok, come
up with something better that can fulfil the need that has been identified.
If there was something better to use, I'd start using it tonight. Right now,
for all its faults, and whatever displeasure it causes some parties, RDF can
be used. If you believe it is fundamentally flawed then offer alternatives
that aren't. You will also need to ensure that the alternatives are more
likely to attract widespread adoption than the current spec.


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