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

Henry Story henry.story at bblfish.net
Sat Dec 18 14:25:51 CET 2010

On 18 Dec 2010, at 13:27, Jiří Procházka wrote:

>> I don't quite see how a badge is going to be useful for robots though. Who is going 
>> to "see" the badge here. Presumably robots will get a request for a client side certificate
>> and send one over.
> When user installs the software he should expect it to work with all
> WebIDs in basic functionality, regardless how many additional syntaxes
> it doesn't understand, sacrificing potential performance gains and
> additional features.

Yes, part of the Working Group will be to develop test suites.
I think we even have a few allready.

>>> You don't want your automated
>>> backup tool to fail, except when it looses connectivity. Maybe browsers
>>> will have no problem being updated with latest WebID syntax
>>> developments, but tools running on server or routers certainly will,
>>> also they often need to be as small as possible. These use cases are the
>>> edge on other similar technologies, so please consider them.
>> You have developed a good practical reduction ad absurdum. If too many 
>> syntaxes develop with no way of knowing their semantics, then clearly it
>> won't work. Therefore one should not develop syntaxes with no clear semantics.
> I haven't said that. That is wrong because there is a different option
> which I advocate - have 1 simple syntax with simple semantics defined in
> a spec, accounting for basic functionality, while welcoming conneg of
> different syntaxes.

Yes, that is well understood that you are defending the one syntax
option. My belief is that in the syntax language wars that is untenable.
Just with XML there are many options: liberty, SAML, Portable Contacts,...
then there is XHMLT/HTML debate, then the JSON, N3, and other formats and so 

Whatever one we choose each of the other one's will cry holy war, and find
a reason to do it their way anyway. And there is no way we can stop them.
I don't think badges are that powerful. What is powerful are good working 
implementations with wide usage. That is where you gain traction.

Ok, so I hope that shows that Peter Williams as wrong when he says that I am 
absolutist. Far from it. Don't forget that on every e-mail I write the symbol
of the babel fish is hidden.  :-)


Social Web Architect

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