The following statements are nonsense
“RDF is more semantic than XML”
“RDF allows us to reason concretely about the real world”
“The power of RDF is its semantic model”
Watching the RDF wheel spin around in the proverbial mud has always been interesting, but disappointing. There’s an ass-load of text — or “churn” as some call it — spent explaing what seems like a simple concept, i.e.,
RDF Term Example Subject DrunkAndRetired.com Predicate Created by Object Coté
In the more concrete coding world, we have the concept of “over-abstraction”: basically, the design for something is so high-level and abstract that it’s useless for any practical application. Ed dubbed this concept the “S.S. Abstraction.” Usually when the S.S. Abstraction docks at your port, you spend a lot of time writing and talking about design before writing a prototype or executing any code; that is, there are completly groundless design claims made. You’d think that programmers are very scientific and numbers oriented, but after just a slight dip in the stream, you realize that we’re very superstitious, non-Baconian type people: we practically follow our own form of computational voodoo.
Back to RDF…
After reading the presentation, esp. the quotes pulled from XML big-wigs, my feelings that RDF is an example of the S.S. Abstraction in the standards world seem sound: the RDF standard appears to be evolving without enough testing for it’s usability as a technology; that is, how useful and easy it is for programmers to use RDF.
On a brighter note, it is a very young standard, and there does seem to be quite a bit of self-corrective kick-backing going on. As one of the quotes in the presentation says,
25 years ago, Ed Feigenbaum described
Terry Winograd’s work (on Artificial
Intelligence) as a “breakthrough in
I worry that web services and the semantic
web, in their reliance on effective
computational semantics are vulnerable to
the same criticism.