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CODE4LIB  November 2013

CODE4LIB November 2013

Subject:

Re: rdf serialization

From:

Alexander Johannesen <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Code for Libraries <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 6 Nov 2013 08:48:47 +1100

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (65 lines)

Ross Singer <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> This is definitely where RDF outclasses almost every alternative*, because
> each serialization (besides RDF/XML) works extremely well for specific
> purposes [...]

Hmm. That depends on what you mean by "alternative to RDF
serialisation". I can think of a few, amongst them obviously (for me)
is Topic Maps which don't go down the evil triplet way with conversion
back and to an underlying data model.

Having said that, there's tuples of many kinds, it's only that the
triplet is the most used under the W3C banner. Many are using to a
more expressive quad, a few crazies , for example, even though that
may or may not be a better way of dealing with it. In the end, it all
comes down to some variation over frames theory (or bundles); a
serialisation of key/value pairs with some ontological denotation for
what the semantics of that might be.

It's hard to express what we perceive as knowledge in any notational
form. The models and languages we propose are far inferior to what is
needed for a world as complex as it is. But as you quoted George Box,
some models are more useful than others.

My personal experience is that I've got a hatred for RDF and triplets
for many of the same reasons Eric touch on, and as many know, I prefer
the more direct meta model of Topic Maps. However, these two different
serialisation and meta model frameworks are - lo and behold! -
compatible; there's canonical lossless conversion between the two. So
the argument at this point comes down to personal taste for what makes
more sense to you.

As to more on problems of RDF, read this excellent (but slighlt dated)
Bray article;
   http://www.tbray.org/ongoing/When/200x/2003/05/21/RDFNet

But wait, there's more! We haven't touched upon the next layer of the
cake; OWL, which is, more or less, an ontology for dealing with all
things knowledge and web. And it kinda puzzles me that it is not more
often mentioned (or used) in the systems we make. A lot of OWL was
tailored towards being a better language for expressing knowledge
(which in itself comes from DAML and OIL ontologies), and then there's
RDFs, and OWL in various formats, and then ...

Complexity. The problem, as far as I see it, is that there's not
enough expression and rigor for the things we want to talk about in
RDF, but we don't want to complicate things with OWL or RDFs either.
And then there's that tedious distinction between a web resource and
something that represents the thing "in reality" that RDF skipped (and
hacked a 304 "solution" to). It's all a bit messy.

> * Unless you're writing a parser, then having a kajillion serializations
> seriously sucks.

Some of us do. And yes, it sucks. I wonder about non-political
solutions ever being possible again ...


Regards,

Alex
-- 
 Project Wrangler, SOA, Information Alchemist, UX, RESTafarian, Topic Maps
 http://shelter.nu/blog  |  google.com/+AlexanderJohannesen  |
http://xsiteable.org
 http://www.linkedin.com/in/shelterit

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