OASIS Mailing List ArchivesView the OASIS mailing list archive below
or browse/search using MarkMail.


Help: OASIS Mailing Lists Help | MarkMail Help



   RDF necessary to SW? - was Issues with XML and Semantic Web ?

[ Lists Home | Date Index | Thread Index ]

On Tue, 09 Nov 2004 20:29:44 -0800, Tim Bray <tbray@textuality.com> wrote:
> On Nov 9, 2004, at 9:18 AM, DuCharme, Bob (LNG-CHO) wrote:
> > the amount of practical, usable RDF data still seems
> > remarkably small.
> Just a reminder that the RDF.net challenge is still open: see
> http://www.tbray.org/ongoing/When/200x/2003/05/21/RDFNet 

FWIW, my recent epiphany that the Semantic Web [1] stuff is not as
wacky as I once thought came partly through the possibly heretical
thought that there is no need to convert much actual data, and perhaps
not much metadata, into RDF.  The powerful Semantic Web idea for me is
the notion of an ontology -- meta-metadata if you will -- that relates
concepts and relationships in real-world metadata (service
definitions, XML schemas, data dictionaries, etc.) to one another in a
way that supports automated inference.  DAML-OIL and OWL are RDF under
the covers, I guess, but  that doesn't strike me as any more
interesting than the fact that they are serialized as XML.  The power
AND the challenge comes from the modeling exercise of defining a
network of resource-predicate-value assertions that can be navigated
to automate useful tasks.

RDF, then, is simply the mechanism that popular ontology languages
employ for describing RPV assertions, or so my thinking goes.

Of course, one logically could build the Semantic Web from the bottom
up by making the actual information out there on the web, in
databases, etc. RDF-compatible so that generic reasoners could follow
the chain of resource definitions back to something that an
application understands.  I'm just predicting that it is far more
likely, and far more practical in real enterprise projects, for
applications to gradually migrate the logic for finding and relating
data and metadata from being hard coded to being inferences over an

That has a couple of advantages:  the extreme ugliness of RDF syntax
is not a problem for very many people, and there is a plausible
evolutionary path from the world of today to the vision for tomorrow. 
After all, any domain that is well defined and stable enough to be
even plausibly managed with hard coded relationships is obviously well
defined and stable enough to be modeled with an ontology.  Using
semantic technology improves the ability to accommodate change and
diversity, using an explicit model in a single language rather than
multiple implicit models in various programming and database
languages.  Furthermore, one can use conventional RDBMS and XML
technology (and conventional application code) to manage all the data
and existing metadata, the only information that potentially would  be
managed with exotic triple stores and  new query languages is the
ontology itself.

Anyone want to point out  flaws in this assessment?

[1] Apropos John Loutzenhiser's comments in the parent thread, I'm
talking about applying the technologies that come out of the Semantic
Web activity to relatively constrained and static domains for which a
top-down formal semantics approach is appropriate.  I agree that
applying them to the Web as a whole will be a "bloated, brittle,
bitter disappointment".


News | XML in Industry | Calendar | XML Registry
Marketplace | Resources | MyXML.org | Sponsors | Privacy Statement

Copyright 2001 XML.org. This site is hosted by OASIS