[foaf-protocols] WebID - mandated syntax or market solution? was WebID Incubator Charter draft

Kingsley Idehen kidehen at openlinksw.com
Fri Dec 17 13:50:44 CET 2010

On 12/17/10 3:46 AM, Jiří Procházka wrote:
>> I outline a repeating pattern above re. our industry. RDF's futile
>> >  attempt to break this time tested pattern that has led to its negative
>> >  (typically) and enigmatic status (at best) over the years. Claiming to
>> >  be everything (markup - RDF, model - RDF, and logic - RDF) only makes
>> >  matters worse.
> To be a bit blunt, it means you disregarded my original concern and
> failed to understand the people this part of WebID should cater for.

What? I don't understand the profile of person WebID should cater for?

I've spent 90% of my professional career in the middleware space (mixing 
and matching data and protocols).

I've been integrating data (as described above) since the late '80s.

> What you suggest, is that WebID should be a heterogenous system of
> sometimes interoperable, sometimes not applications for years to come,
> like RDF app land is now (I disagree that RDF tried to enforce one
> mandatory syntax, that it failed and it failed because of it) and web
> was pre-HTTP.

So you are saying to me that the Web is 100% interoperable at all levels?

To be more precise, that HTTP is used consistently across the Web?

> Why and how HTTP came out as a "winner"?

1. Data Representation is decoupled from Data Access Protocols
2. Data Representation is distinct from Data Presentation
3. Platform agnostic.

Again, HTTP isn't used consistently on the Web, most developers don't 
even understand or exploit content negotiation. It is a major success 
because of the points above which enable it to deliver untethered 
client-server computing without platform lock-in.

The emergence of Linked Data showcase how we can up the ante by 
combining URIs and HTTP as based for Distributed Data Objects. Network 
oriented Objects with de-referencable Identifiers at Network scale 
(intranet, extranet, Internet).

There is a graveyard full of initiatives that preceded HTTP -- in the 
distributed computing realm -- that failed due to any combination of 
items 1-3 above.

>   I would argue it
> is because it seemed for most people the syntax which could by
> understood by most clients, not because of its superiority, which is
> exactly what I've been saying we should create and call WebID, like now
> Web is understood as using HTTP.

WebID leverages HTTP, URIs, and Linked Data. That's inherently potent 
and doesn't need any syntax distraction re. RDF.

HTTP based Linked Data took off because HTML (no RDFa in it at the time) 
was used as an alternative representation to RDF for pages read by 
humans. A nuanced move from the LOD community exemplified by the DBpedia 
project. Prior to this effort RDF existed in its own litter vacuum.

History is always the greatest teacher.

> You think implementors can live in such syntax-reality-show system, well
> yes, some can, but I say a lot of them refuse to.

So let's move them to RDF covertly?

Implementers ultimately seek the most productive path for implementing a 
clearly understood concept. They don't start with Syntax.

>   They want to trust to
> rely on WebID like they rely on TCP/IP stack, which is impossible
> without at least one mandatory syntax. You say choosing such mandatory
> syntax would deter many people, I say a lot more will be deterred by
> lack of it and the assurances it provides.

Well I disagree, and time will prove one of us wrong.

> If you knew me a lot more, you would learn that I would let almost
> anything for market to sort out, but for machine languages is simply not
> practical nor efficient. There is a large crowd of people who would
> stick out the flag "Hey we don't want to participate in this popularity
> contest, lets choose something basic, simple which just works and can be
> relied on, and call it WebID".

I don't really get your point. Primarily because I have no sense of how 
you've arrived at these conclusions.

My views are based on hard core experience based on many years of 
dealing with interoperability, where data access and integration is the 
prime focus. Middleware has been my focus forever, pre Web.

>  From a general perspective all the people who would reinvent WebID (with
> different mandated syntax, or no at all like you wish) would create the
> market of competing syntaxes you like. In other words, by choosing a
> mandated syntax you loose nothing.

WebID isn't about syntax. It's actually about Logic.



Kingsley Idehen	
President&  CEO
OpenLink Software
Web: http://www.openlinksw.com
Weblog: http://www.openlinksw.com/blog/~kidehen
Twitter/Identi.ca: kidehen

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