online accounts vs IM accounts? was Re: indicating meta and type?

Dan Brickley danbri at w...
Sun Dec 8 12:03:22 UTC 2002


Here's a question, that's pretty independent of RDF syntax details:

If we're making up a way of representing user accounts for online chat 
services (AIM, MSN, iChat etc. Instant Messaging), is that problem any 
more specific than the general one of representing a user account with 
online services in general (eg. Slashdot, eBay, Amazon, etc. logins).

FWIW I keep my online banking details hidden away in a pgp-encrypted FOAF 
file, and the (made up on the spot) markup I use to represent that doesn't 
seem too different from that I'd use for AIM etc account details. Basically 
there is a need to identify the service, and someone's controlled userID 
within that service, and (for the daring) perhaps one's password or hashed 

My suggestion would be to take two parallel strands:
(i) create nice simple shortcut properties for all the main IM services,
foaf:aimChat_nick, foaf:msnChat_nick etc., as well (ii) as a more general if 
verbose representation of a generic user account. The former is a 
convenient user-friendly shortcut; the later is for backend/script use, 
and for purists. Both have a role.

This tradeoff between verbose/expressive and short/sweet/cludgy is 
of course a classic design headache, and one that we'll run into with 
FOAF and RDF/SW apps time and time again. Here's another variant:
(sorry, demo by bitmap picture...) we see the tradeoff between saying 'person X went to a school, S
that has a homepage SP' and 'person X has a schoolHomepage of SP'. The 
two forms have strengths and weaknesses. As with IM, I think we need to allow 
for both forms, and there will be a need both for tools that map the one 
into the other, as well as user documentation that explains which is the 
preferred form in some context (eg. "use foaf:schoolHomepage in your foaf.rdf;
use the longer form if you're describing the details of each school...").

hope this helps. 


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