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   Re: [xml-dev] ANN: Article on using RDF to provide extensibility andmodu

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On Sat, 26 Apr 2003 07:15:14 -0600, Uche Ogbuji 
<uche.ogbuji@fourthought.com> wrote:

> Good XML design, in my experience, leads to the generation of very good 
> RDF views, as long as you have the tools.  We in the 4Suite camp have put 
> quite a bit of wrk into making good XML/RDF reflection tools available, 
> and I've always been very surprised that we seem so alone in this effort.

> Mike, I'm a consultant.  If I don't make my clients more productive, I 
> don't eat.  I think that my experience, and the trend of my work proves 
> that RDF does indeed pay great dividends if used intelligently.  Others 
> have reported the same gains.  I'm not sure why you claim not to have 
> seen them when I know you have.  If it suits you to pretend I'm the only 
> one in this camp, even though you correspond with at least two others in 
> that camp on an almost daily basis, then I'll leave you to that 
> amusement.

Uche, I think your first point answers the question.  We (the skeptics) 
know that there are people who use RDF in conjunction with XML very 
effectively.  The ones the seem to do it the best are working in fields 
such as medicine where literally centuries of effort have gone into 
producing standardized "ontologies" that are taught to all practicioners. 
You say that you have good luck solving real problems with "RDF reflection 
tools" but note that you are essentially the only company producing them.  
Maybe you (very wisely!) take on contracts that are well-suited to your 
tools and skills; that doesn't necessarily say that less skilled mortals 
doing their own jobs can make such effective use of these techniques.  I'm 
just not seeing a lot of ordinary blokes voting with their feet for XML+RDF 
over straight XML.
> I do regret that there is not enough body of best practice on how to use 
> RDF so well out there.  I have no time to do it: it really needs the sort 
> of tireless work that Costello applied for WXS.

Yes.  There's a bit of a chicken and egg problem here.  You're too busy 
Just Doing It to explain it to the skeptics. I understand that. But until 
there is "peer review" of this stuff, we won't really have a sense if what 
you're talking about works outside limited domains, or if you are using it 
to do more or less what others could do equally well with the sharpest tool 
in their own boxes, be it XSLT, XQuery, SAX, DOM, schema databinding, or 
whatever.  I thought Dare's reply elsewhere in this thread was very notable 
in that regard:  "Kerry" can kick butt with his RDF techniques if the 
"competition" is hacking around insufficient knowledge and the wrong tools 
for the job, but could a knowledgeable and skillful person really do a 
better job by adopting his techniques?

> My argument against RSS 0.92 has always been that is is *bad XML*, 
> regardless  of whether or not it uses RDF.  After all, I have no problem 
> extracting RDF from good XML.

Hmm, I'm reminded once again (as I seem to be reminded a lot lately!) of 
the Metacrap article.  The people who can make use of information produced 
by the "lying, lazy, stupid, non-selfware" masses are going to beat those 
who require quality data inputs every time out there in mass markets.  The 
search engines that obsessed about information in META tags were killed by 
the spammers and their ilk, while Google prospered with anything that 
managed to have a few working hyperlinks going out and enough interesting 
content for anyone to link to.  That seems to be happening in the 
Weblog/RSS world all over again. Oops, that's another permathread, sorry :-)

> As for RDBMS.  It's another point that is not as simplistic as its 
> attendant flames.  For some classes of data modeled in RDF, RDBMS is 
> fine.  In other cases, it's a curse (especially when you have a lot of N- 
> ary or transitive relationships, which are common in real life).  This is 
> an old problem with RDBMS, and is simply an illustration that no model is 
> ideal for all data, despite the claims of relational purists.

Absolutely!  That's probably why I keep annoying you to help me understand 
what RDF is best for and how to recognize and exploit those opportunities.  
I think I have a good handle on RDBMS and XML use cases, I'm struggling 
with RDF (and somewhat put off by the purists), but there are enough people 
that I greatly respect who are making use of it that I'm trying very hard 
to keep my mind open.  Back to the original article, I do agree that "Sam" 
could benefit from some basic RDF knowledge and tools in his reperoire, but 
that "Kerry" needs to quit chanting the mantra "RDF is the solution, what's 
your problem?".


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