[rdfweb-dev] Relationship Schema Updated

Ian Davis iand at internetalchemy.org
Sun Mar 14 13:03:35 UTC 2004

Hi Michael,

On Sunday, March 14, 2004, 9:09:27 AM, Michael Bauser wrote:
> The problem is that its vague when it should be definitive (kinship),
> and definitive where it should be vague (friendship).

Are you just trying to make a snappy soundbite or attempting to get a
serious argument across? In no way is the vocabulary definitive on
friendship and by whose command must it be definitive on kinship?

> - From where I stand, it's not that useful, because it encourages the
> creation of less-than-desciptive datasets.
That's the real world. You're suggesting that no data is better than
some under-described data. I disagree.

>> We're taking tiny steps here so we get _something_ that
>> works even if it's wrong. Then we learn from that and make it better.
>> Please propose some additions or alternatives that will improve it.

> 1) Kill those hideously ethnocentric attempts at kinship terms and
> replace them with terms that are cross-cultural and actually
> descriptive: brother, daughter, father, husband, mother, son, sister,
> and wife.) They've worked for scientists describing real-world social
> networks for decades, I don't see why they wouldn't work on the
> Internet.) See my response to Morten's message for the gory details.

Please explain for us novices why parent is less cross-cultural than
father or mother? As far as I can see, it is a more general term for
either. How do you use father/mother to describe foster relationships?

> 2) Kill FriendOf, CloseFriendOf, EnemyOf, AntagonistOf, and
> AmibivilantOf. They're just going to create unhelpful ambiguities and
> social awkwardness. (It's like an out-of-balance Likert scale, or
> something.) If you really want "tiny steps", try
> "postive/negative/neutral opinion" (with no assertions about
> reciprocity). That's where a social scientist would start, because
> informants alway understand binary questions.

I think the existing terms are useful at the level FOAF is pitched. To
help me understand your suggestion, are these the kinds of properties
that you mean (forget the specific naming convention if you will)?


How would you qualify the opinion type? I may have a negative opinion
of someone's ability to keep time, but a positive opinion of
their loyalty.

> 4) Lose the entire "Using With HTML and XHTML" nonsense. You're taking
> link relationships in exactly the opposite direction the newer HTML
> recommendations do; link relationships define the relationship between
> documents, not people. You're imitating one of the worst aspects of XFN.
This was explictly put in to embrace the XFN concept and to
demonstrate that both camps can interoperate. I believe that if you
specify the HTML profile you are using then the rel/rev attribute
contents can be defined however you like. This is an example of a
USEFUL addition to the vocabulary, to promote wider adoption.

> 5) knowsInPassing and knowsByReputation: The first in nearly
> nonfunctional, and the second is completely non-functional. Where does
> knowsByReputation begin and end? Should I just go ahead and list all the
> United States Presidents that can I remember? They have reputations.
If you want.

> 6) wouldLikeToKnow is also nearly-useless, and just a little creepy.
> What's next? rel:stalkerTo? rel:patheticCrushOn?
> rel:waitingForHerToDumpHerBoyfriendSoICanBagHerOnTheRebound? I'm just
> getting too many bad vibes from wouldLikeToKnow; its primary users will
> be tactless high school students and creepy guys who don't bathe enough.

There are a number of relationships in this vocabulary that are added
to address real, working systems. My goal here is to reduce the
chance of fragmentation by providing a shared vocabulary. Like them or
loath them, there are dozens of so-called social network systems.
Some of them have made steps to involve themselves in the RDF/SemWeb
community, and the FOAF community specifically. These people want to
build applications that interface with the messy real world. I sense
that many of them are frustrated with the complexity of RDF and FOAF
and I'm amazed that so many of them have persevered. The perception is
that we sit in our ivory towers, look down our noses at these
people and tell them what they're doing wrong without being able to
show them the solution. Sooner or later they'll get fed up with asking
and do it there own way. In my opinion, that's a tragic loss both of
intelligent input and of large amounts of interesting data.

I want to see interoperability between these systems. I want to see
the Semantic Web used and useful. I want to help people by showing
them how that can use these technologies to build their systems
without requiring a PhD in cognitive science. To do that we as a
community have to accept less academically pure vocabularies, ones
that use familiar concepts not academic abstrations. We can always
increase the detail in the vocabularies without changing meaning, but
adpoption and use is more important to me than idealism.

After all, it's only _a_ vocabulary for describing relationships. I
think you're mistaking it for _the_ vocabulary which doesn't and
cannot exist.


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