[rdfweb-dev] Time's running out?

Julian Bond julian_bond at voidstar.com
Fri Aug 8 08:34:29 UTC 2003

Jim Ley <jim at jibbering.com> wrote:
>He makes some interesting points, but has failed to understand RDF, making
>up extra namespaces isn't dangerous

I've been around RDF long enough now that I can mostly see the logic. It 
is extremely flexible and extremely powerful as a way of encoding data 
and metadata properties of stuff.

And I'm still extremely confused about how anyone is supposed to consume 
this stuff. It looks to me suspiciously like write-only data.

And even with relatively simple concepts, it has that perl quality of 
"There is always more than one way of coding". To take a single example, 
I was amazed that something as simple as encoding a Person's gender 
should have produced more than a single proposal. I can understand 
arguing about the name of the tag, but why was there any argument about 

I think we have to take a 10,000 ft view once in a while and think about 
adoption and the lifecycle of standards. Every namespace and every tag 
within that namespace is a "standard" that has to fight for survival in 
the ecology of developer and application mindshare. If you control both 
ends (author and consumer) this is just not an issue. And if you want to 
expose it globally but don't care if anybody reads it, again, no issue. 
But if you want to get widespread adoption, then the standard has got to 
be easy to produce, easy to understand, easy to consume with code. These 
are just pre-conditions. You've still got to do all the evangelism and 
get lucky.

So is FOAF and by implication RDF, "Write-only" data? Well from where 
I'm standing, damn right. Using the tools available in my chosen 
environment (PHP, not exactly off mainstream) It's dead easy to create. 
It's hard to read. And lots of it I can't read reliably at all or 
interpret if I can read it. And it's taken me 8 months off and on to get 
to the point where I can mostly understand the issues.

This is all causing me extreme frustration and sleepless nights ;-) I 
think I can vaguely see a huge playground somewhere in the future. But I 
have no idea how to get there. And I have this nagging doubt that we 
can't get there from here.

Julian Bond Email&MSM: julian.bond at voidstar.com
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