[rdfweb-dev] Time's running out?

Julian Bond julian_bond at voidstar.com
Fri Aug 8 11:06:16 UTC 2003

Martin L Poulter <M.L.Poulter at bristol.ac.uk> wrote:
>The following do not seem to be valid criticisms:
>Discussion of silly attributes. The email list does not have a fixed
>volume- the posts discussing these non-central things do not prevent
>anybody talking about their own interpretation of the task in hand.
>That there are documents floating about with non-standard tags, so FOAF
>is some kind of failure. People write bad HTML and their pages don't
>render, but the Web carries on without that information. People mistype
>a FOAF attribute, or otherwise fail to specify something that has a
>valid definition. That won't stop us browsing the RDFweb, just
>deprive us of the run-time automated use of that information. Maybe the
>criticism is that the percentage of errors is above a tolerable maximum:
>how is that calculated?

The stats show a large number of infrequently used tags, many of which 
are not in the spec. They also show a large number of incorrectly used 
tags that are in the spec. All these represent write-only data. One 
response to this is to ignore it. Another response to this is to make 
efforts to encourage validation against an agreed spec. I've suggested 
this in the past but have been told that "Validating FOAF" does not mean 
anything except in the sense of validating against RDF. And that 
validating against the spec is back to front because the spec is a 
reflection of current practice not an arbiter. So Libby's (sorry to take 
this as an example, Libby) FOAF file is just as valid as mine despite 
the fact that Libby's is so far from what I can code to expect that it's 
essentially unusable to me[1].

>Is the task of this project "to produce and publish a usable RDF Schema
>for representing a person and people they know" (Lindeman)? My
>impression was that was just a subgoal within wider goals such as
>enabling "Semantic homepages", raising awareness of the expressive power
>of multiple-namespace documents, and generally throwing up data and
>applications for RDF tools to chew on. Different participants have
>different hopes about what FOAF will achieve, I expect.

Indeed. I don't want to experiment with RDF tools chewing on data. I 
don't want to raise awareness of the expressive power of multiple 
namespace documents. I don't want to enable semantic homepages. To be 
crude and somewhat tactless, I don't want to live in an ivory tower.

I want to write apps.

[1]I refuse to take this as evidence that I don't understand or as a 
reflection on my coding skills ;-)

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