Practical RDF Weblog—Back in Action

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

The Practical RDF book weblog is back in action. I’ll be posting chapters, slowly, starting in the next couple of days. We’re trying to get the book into the publication process by end of the year, which means less weblogging, more book writing, and more coding.

Discipline. Aren’t INTJ’s supposed to be disciplined?

The material has been altered, considerably, from the first draft. I’ve added coverage of additional technologies, refocused the audience a bit, and updated the material to reflect the newest edition of the RDF specification documents. Still, the material is in draft form, which means no editorial polish and the usual Burningbirdisms. In between releases of chapters, I’ll also be covering other RDF-related topics, to add a bit of variety. Keep you all hungry for more.

The release of the chapters will also signify the release of some new goodies I’ve been playing around with for a time. All open source, of course. Many are weblog or web site-related so I hope that they might be of interest.

Just Shelley

The Letter

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

I received a rare letter from my Father today. He doesn’t write too many letters now because his hand writing has become increasingly bad over the years. What with the stroke and all the cancers and the radiation overdose I’m glad just to be getting a letter, much less one that’s legible.

Of course, my father’s hand writing never was good. It’s a version of printing I call the Powers Print — a combination of upper and lower case block-like print letters, lightly scrawled as if the writer is too impatient with the slowness of the ink and the inefficiency of the pen and paper. Hasty marks barely touching the page.

Reading my Dad’s letters requires intuition, imagination, and no little detective skill. I usually only attempt the process when I can get my roommate to help me with the deciphering.

“‘I went to the doctor ______.’ Does that look like a Tuesday or Thursday to you?”

“Looks like a Sunday.”

“Can’t be. You don’t go to the doctor on Sunday.”

“You’re right. It’s probably Thursday. I think that’s a ‘ur’ not a ‘ue’.”

“I think you’re right. ‘I went to the doctor Thursday. He said that I need to consider getting a _____’. I have no idea what this word is. Can you recognize it?”

“Hmmm. Rocker? Do you think it says ‘rocker’?”

“Why would a doctor recommend a rocker? Must be something else. ‘I went to the doctor Tuesday. He said I need to consider getting a ‘blank’. He’s concerned I’m going to’, does this look like ‘fall’ to you?”

“I’d say it was fall. If that’s fall, then the previous word could be ‘walker’. That would make sense.”

And on it goes, in an exercise that provides both news and entertainment until just before his usual signoff of ‘Love, Dad’, when he writes with unusual clarity:

“I bet you can’t read half this letter.”


Babes in the markup

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

I have really been enjoying Liz’s XML Class Weblog. It’s so refreshing ‘hearing’ all these voices newly exposed to XML, RSS, RDF, Schemas and so on. With the weblog, I feel as if I’m peeking into Liz’s class, itself. This posting on the students’ personal weblogs already demonstrates that some of Liz’s students are getting the real spirit of commenting.

Wouldn’t it be nice to preserve that innocent introduction to, and joy of, XML and its related children? Before the voices become jaded, contentious, semi-religious in fervor, biting, cutting, suppressing, picky, snippy, grumpy, and bored?

The thing is, I keep having this almost obsessive desire to post comments in the weblog. Start a nice, lovely, Burningbird style of conversation with Liz’s students.



Silent Voices

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

I was, and was not, surprised to see Mike Sanders hang up on weblogging today. I could see glimpses of burn out in his recent posts. In addition, he’s involved in new conflicts that would leave a sour taste in anyone’s mouth who is witness to them.

My decision to do away with a traditional blogroll started, in part, with Mike. In March this year, he removed several people from his blogroll, and posted a note that he did so because the people were “terrorist sympathizers”. After the uproar attached to this action, he put the people back on his blogroll, and issued an apology, of sorts.

In my comments attached to the Roll Call post, Jonathon asked:


In terms of the delinking debate, will you include posts with which you vehemently disagree?

To answer Jonathon, the first post I was going to link to and excerpt in the new system was Mike Sanders’ post on removing people from his blogroll. I considered that one to be pivotal within the weblogging history I hope to capture.

There are few weblog postings that have had as much of an impact on me as Mike’s. Based on this posting, between one moment and the next, weblogging had changed for me. It was no longer me writing in a vacuum; it was about me being part of a community, one in which conflict exists in addition to comradery. As difficult as the events of the time were back then, the end result is that weblogging became a much richer experience for me. For many of us. And I would be less than remiss — less than honorable — if I weren’t to acknowledge this.

Mike brought much of the battle he retreates from on to himself. He used the term moral equivalency as a stone on which to stand and look down on others. He re-interpreted viewpoints in a manner almost guaranteed to frustrate the originators of the viewpoint. He used labels as weapons. He also sent emails to people that would exacerbate an already tense situation. Mike introduced conflict.

However, Mike also started conversations. He got people to think. He helped us to understand the power of this medium and he made us all realize how much impact simple words, and simple links, and simple actions, could have.

The (negative) concept of de-linking is partially responsible for me removing my blogroll. However, in its place will be something that, I hope, will be much better than passive links. Ultimately, I think we’ll benefit greately from this change. And I owe this, in part, to Mike.

The conflict he introduced, the discordant notes he played with many of us, added to the richness of this medium. He writes today:


So I would like to dedicate this post to any people I have angered. Consider my giving up blogging as your own personal victory. And get on to the important task of developing love towards your family, friends and community.


I feel no victory. His weblog will be missed. His silence will be heard.


Creative Commons and RSS Syndication

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

I am applying some pushback in regards to RSS and the Creative Commons License over at the RSS Development Group discussion group.

My original statement:

I’ve already incorporated this into my weblog template and into my PostContent system for weblog resources. However, there is no defined semantics defining the understanding how licensing is applied to RSS feeds. For instance, is the license applied to the feed or the source? If the feed, how does the CCL attached the feed conflict with implied consent of the data considering that RSS feeds are assumed to be aggregated and potentially published? If the feed has excerpts only, wouldn’t this be overridden by fair use laws? If the feed has all the content, does the license apply to the content as feed or to the content separate from the feed?

How is a conflict resolved between a license in a feed and a license within the actual resource itself? Does the license in the resource take precedence?

Just because the CCL is RDF/XML, doesn’t mean we should run out an incorporate it into every existing RDF datastore: FOAF, RSS, and so on.

Good discussion. If you’re interested in CCL and syndication feeds, or impacts of licensing on aggregated material, or even a peek at the confusion that can result when tech and law are thrown together, you might be interested in checking out the discussion. Technical background not required.

Hopefully, some fo the Creative Commons folks will also check this out and get into the discussion.