Re: Why is RDF hard?

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From: Edd Dumbill (
Date: Tue Aug 15 2000 - 10:29:17 PDT

On Tue, Aug 15, 2000 at 07:27:08AM -0700, Dave Winer wrote:
> This landed on the Web today, I had nothing to do with it. Synchronicity.
> Gotta love it. ;->

I think this is a great piece. It chimes with some of the things I
wrote last week on [1].

> Stop and think XML fans.
> Imho, RSS gained traction because it's simple.

I don't think this is just the case, actually. RSS gained traction
because of the things you could do with it: My Netscape, My Userland,
Carmen's Headline Viewer, etc.

After all, HTML is more complex than RSS and it got *even more*
traction. The answer (as you like to say) lies in apps, apps, apps.

> Taking it into RDF-Land is the biggest boner ever.

(I presume "boner" means something different in the US to its meaning in
England, and that you disapprove of using RDF for RSS!)

I don't agree, for reasons I have set out elsewhere [2], that using RDF
is a bad idea. For relatively little syntactic sugar we bring a bunch of
smart people, smart technology and extensibility into RSS. They've been
at pains to ensure backward compatibility. Those who love simplicity can
carry on as they were.

I'm partisan of course, I'm an RDF advocate. Yet I recognise that RDF's
still quite early stage work. Unless you try to do things with it,
you'll never figure out where it goes. Jumping out of the plane with no
parachute Dave, something you do too. [3]

> When will XML people get that there are other people out there who don't
> share their love abstraction piled on abstraction.

Now. Take a look at the tool support pledged or already extant for the
new RSS 1.0 proposal [4,5]. I'd say that Rael & co. have a pretty strong
grip on the fact that a lot of folk don't want to see the pointies.
These toolkits will quickly allow other developers to put support in
their tools--Jetspeed, Manila, Blogger, Zope, Mozilla all come to mind
here--and therefore help the users get up to speed, and above all
provide compelling apps.

> Dave (Math major, graph theory, yes I get it, I love abstraction, but I'm a
> commercial developer who gets no pleasure from creating things that no one
> uses.)

Ditto the rest of us.

-- Edd


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