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

peter williams home_pw at msn.com
Fri Dec 17 22:49:28 CET 2010

First, I think WebID is good, because it’s contains a passing resemblance of a very well known term ”DigitalID”. And, of course a DigitalID was a code word for a cert. that’s all the down side, as explained later.


For journalists, would anyone object to a 


“A WebID is an authenticated URL” ?


Yes, we know its URI, but 99% of the planet talks about URLs.

Authenticated is a term known to journalists now.

Its short and pithy.


If you look at the whole sentence, it contains most of the important notions: id, web, authentic, UR*




A WebID Protocol is a means of authenticating a WebID


For example, FOAF+SSL was a prototype WebID Protocol, whose awful name shall be expunged from the record.


Now, for my sanity, is it necessary for the WebID Protocol to involve certs (and SSL client certs, at that)?


Traditionally … the answer would have been yes. But now, are we more general?


If a client-cert used as we applied it in the halcyon F+S days binds to an openid assertion through gatewaying, and it is really said assertion that is tied to the WebID protocol at the relying party, is this structure legit? If so, its on the basis that the verification of the assertion (that implies the SSL client cert’s status and standing) that is that which defines the authenticity status of the WebID.

For generality, Id much rather go with the above, rather than portray WebID movement as something tied to the hated DigitalID client certs for SSL and S/MIME. Firms like Microsoft can then get behind something like this, since they can tie in to all their investments in claims-based security models, using some token/protocol/message scheme or other.



From: foaf-protocols-bounces at lists.foaf-project.org [mailto:foaf-protocols-bounces at lists.foaf-project.org] On Behalf Of Kingsley Idehen
Sent: Friday, December 17, 2010 12:21 PM
To: foaf-protocols at lists.foaf-project.org
Subject: Re: [foaf-protocols] WebID - mandated syntax or market solution? was WebID Incubator Charter draft


On 12/17/10 1:32 PM, Jiří Procházka wrote: 

On 12/17/2010 07:13 PM, Kingsley Idehen wrote:

On 12/17/10 10:42 AM, Jiří Procházka wrote:

Like you say, the Web isn't 100% interoperable. So anyone waving with
"Web compatible" badges is not taken seriously. I expect people using
"WebID compatible" badges same like they use "OpenID 2.0 compatible"
now, and I think I am not alone.
My point isn't that WebID would be worthless if there is no mandatory
syntax (at least one; best be it just one).

The alternative is to have a variety of syntax examples for EAV model
based structured data.
ASN.1 is an old notation which is also used for EAV based data encoding.
I don't recommend it, but that doesn't mean it wouldn't be useful to
others with toolkits for handling data encoded using this markup language.

My point is that for majority of consumers, "WebID badge" would be
useless, since they couldn't point their app at any WebID praying it
supports at least one syntax their app supports.

So for those who can't get over the "one syntax" or "a syntax" issue, I
suggest making examples using a variety of syntaxes.
Thus, if this is an inclusive party, post concept comprehension,
examples would come in from people who prefer specific syntaxes for
encoding EAV model data.

I dare to say there will be much more people concerned about this than
people like you would would be deterred by existence of mandated syntax.

I am not deterred by anything.
Again, we (at OpenLink) benefit (basically competitive advantage+++++++)
if it's RDF. This is the strange irony that you aren't discerning from
my commentary. That still doesn't compel be to sit back on the issue of
I want this party to be devoid of RDF distractions. Even if I (or
OpenLink) have huge advantages with RDF anything. Being inclusive must
be the number goal.

Repeating myself, the core protocol (the logic as you say), should be
abstract as possible, fulfilling the 3 points you mention above, but for
the usability sake, lets call WebID the spec which would benefit the
most from a simple striking name "WebID" is - the one requiring
inclusive usage of one mandated syntax, making the "badges" actually

There are many ways to encode EAV, so there should be a variety of
markup based examples. Anything less will ultimately inject inertia into
WebID uptake momentum.
The letters "R-D-F" still turn of a majority of people (profile: Web
Developer) , instinctively.


No, you are missing the point, this isn't about RDF at all, I mentioned
RDF only because it would be convenient if the mandated syntax was also
RDF serialization. Please lets not talk about RDF any more.


The issue is whether the "supports WebID" should mean "supports the
WebID Protocol with at least syntax XYZ" or just "supports the WebID
Protocol, eventhough it may speak to you in syntax which would be
incomprehensible to your software, thus spewing a confusing error message".

It speaks the protocol. The data that the protocol operates on should be structured such that: an Entity (Subject), its Attributes (Predicates), and Attribute Values (Predicate Objects) are clearly discernible to machines and humans.

Representations should be negotiated between clients and servers.  

Some people just want to have the guarantee the latter won't happen -
exactly the people I said you weren't considering in your
let-the-best-syntax-win idea.

HTTP lets you negotiate Structured Data Representation. 

Also even if we fairly soon settle on a set of syntaxes which would
cover 99% of WebIDs in the wild like Henry hopes, still this would be a
"set of syntaxes" which is rising the implementation costs compared to
having to support just the one syntax (if you are willing to sacrifice
the possible advantages of the other probaly newer ones).

See comment above re. content negotiation.

Realistically, there will be a range of implementations from feature and
syntax support rich, to bare bones implemetations *both on the publisher
side and the client side*. If we want even the bare bones
implementations to be interoperable, they have to use the same syntax.

They have to grok the model and negotiate preferred structured data representations.

Otherwise the nice and striking "WebID" name is just good to use on
academic papers and conferences.

WebID isn't popular in academic circles. Most implementations to date aren't from academia :-)


foaf-protocols mailing list
foaf-protocols at lists.foaf-project.org

Kingsley Idehen       
President & CEO 
OpenLink Software     
Web: http://www.openlinksw.com
Weblog: http://www.openlinksw.com/blog/~kidehen
Twitter/Identi.ca: kidehen 
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: http://lists.foaf-project.org/pipermail/foaf-protocols/attachments/20101217/1cdff6c5/attachment.htm 

More information about the foaf-protocols mailing list