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Re: [xml-dev] Lessons learned from the XML experiment

On Thu, Nov 14, 2013 at 6:19 AM, Simon St.Laurent <simonstl@simonstl.com> wrote:
t's easy: I've learned over the years that people who believe in certainty, especially those who believe that they can communicate certainty, are dangerous. 
Something goes deeply wrong when people assume that it is possible to know things precisely, to name things precisely, and to communicate things precisely.  (I'll grant that claims of precision are slightly less dangerous than claims of accuracy.)

I sometimes call it naive positivism, but there are other philosophical schools that lead to the same sad place.  Computers, of course, encourage such delusions, but that is largely because they know so little about the world.

This is a philosophy to live by. RDF works when you keep to the open world assumption, works even better when you treat all assertions as provisional until proven otherwise. I've been modeling "assumption" frameworks, rather than assertion ones, precisely (pardon the pun) to provide a way of expressing risk, uncertainty and ambiguity. 
Uche is extra-right about URIs, of course, a corner that painfully demonstrates these limitations again and again.

I've long felt that namespaces would have been a great deal less problematic if, early on, a formal protocol distinct from http: had been assigned. If you had a namespace uri of the form


people wouldn't have tried to conflate them with http URLs, wouldn't have tried to treat them like web directory paths, and would probably have made them more readily adopted by developers who were already seeing other languages using similar notations for their namespace conventions. Surprisingly, I think that namespaces (and prefixes) work better in RDF, at least in Turtle or Sparql, 

Kurt Cagle
Invited Expert, XForms Working Group, W3C
Managing Editor, XMLToday.org

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