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


Help: OASIS Mailing Lists Help | MarkMail Help



   Why not RDF rather than RSS for the Web of Data? - was Something altoget

[ Lists Home | Date Index | Thread Index ]

On 4/25/05, Bill de hÓra <bill.dehora@propylon.com> wrote:

> I see RSS/Atom pecking away at enveloping and packaging technologies
> such as SOAP, maybe even MIME, rather than content formats.

Right, that's why it took me a few days to figure out why Bosworth was
going on about RSS as a data format rather than a metadata format.  I
think the argument is that the implicit ontology of RSS is pretty
generic -- lots of things can be thought of as items in information
channels with author/ownership information, where each item has a
title,  some times, and some actual content as well as a link back to
some definitive source.  All that is needed to hit some 80/20 point
(so the argument apparently goes, I'm not necessarily agreeing)  for
data on the web is some domain-specific conventions for "structured
metadata" or "microcontent" or authoritative namespaces to make the
content usable by search engines etc. as data rather than simply text.

>. However you could replace the
> Atom above with RDF1.0 and let the entire feed pass straight through to
> the RDF aware layer - nothing would break. This kind of flexibility is
> worth keeping in mind the next time someone here dings RDF because it
> can't describe Fahrenheit to Celsius conversions. It ain't pretty, but
> it does have interesting properties, Turing completeness not being among
> them.

I don't doubt that RDF logically could meet the use cases Bosworth was
talking about, nor do I doubt that XQuery views of diverse data
sources logically could meet those requirements. The question is
whether they have those "S" attributes (simplicity, sloppiness,
standardization, scalability) he asserts are necessary to thrive on
the Web.

I don't really care which "wins" --  something RSS-like or something
RDF-like  -- to become the data format for the Web of Data (if such a
thing ever exists).  Both are at XML-ish. I believe Bosworth's
analysis enough to bet on RSS, if I had to make a prediction:
- It has proved simpler to actually use by ordinary mortals
- The RSS culture and toolset is tolerant of error, ambiguity, and
other human characteristics
- RSS people can't agree on a formal standard but it is ubiquitous and
interoperable in practice
- Its growth curve indicates that it scales to the Web and leverages
HTTP nicely.

I don't think any of these can be said about RDF. Simplicity (for
users), sloppiness (tolerance of error), and standardization (in the
sense of ubiquity) are just not among RDF's virtues. I don't know
about scalability one way or the other, and its relationship with HTTP
seems a bit rocky.

As Bill suggests, maybe a hybrid with RSS-like enveloping/packaging
and RDF rarther than ad hoc conventions about content would give us
the best of both worlds.  I guess I'm skeptical that people will learn
to jump through all those hoops that RDF sets up. BUT if somehow RDF
could overcome the "simple" and "sloppy" issues, its built-in
meta-ness and resolution mechanism could get around the need for all
those domain-specific conventions.

I'd be interested in pushback ... maybe others don't agree with
Bosworth's "4 S's"?  Maybe ordinary mortals will actually get
comfortable with some RDF syntax?  Maybe I underestimate it's
tolerance for error/ambiguity??


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

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