Semantics Specs

RDF Specifications Recommended

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

W3C is pleased to announce the advancement of the Resource Description Framework (RDF) to Proposed Recommendation.

Relieved more like it as these long awaited specifications finally reach the “proposed recommended” state, one short step before becoming formal recommendations.

These documents (RDF/XML Syntax Specification, RDF Vocabulary Description Language 1.0RDF SemanticsRDF PrimerRDF Test Cases, and RDF: Concepts and Abstract Syntax) represent a great deal of time and effort on the part of the RDF working group members, who are to be congratulated in finishing this important milestone.

In addition to the RDF documents, the OWL Web Ontology Language also made proposed recommendation status. Someone at the W3C must have said: let’s get this show on the road, children.

Semantic Web, or should I say, semantic web, here we come.

(Thanks to Dave Beckett and Danny Ayers for heads up.)



Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

Both my mineral collection and the items I had in my unit in San Francisco sold this last week while I was out of town. The mineral collection in particular is going to a very good home. In fact, one of the side trips this next week is to deliver the collection because I don’t want to risk damage to them through regular shipping.

Thanks to both sales, I can now take my long awaited research trip, as well as stock up on more film and more importantly, a new slide scanner. Not an expensive one – good enough to scan slides and negatives to send to editors. For publication purposes, I’ll still need to then have them professionally scanned – after they’ve sold, of course.

I have quite a few things going on, including looking at the possibility of switching to new blogging software for my sites, as well as starting two new weblogs. I’m also helping a friend with his new publication (though I haven’t done much for him yet). I’ve been trying to work through a new book deal, but I am now beginning to lose hope that it is going through, and this is disappointing.

I also thought this week of closing down Burningbird because I think that the tread on this weblog’s tires has worn too thin: too many expectations about what will, or will not be, written about here. Still, expectations are not granite and I’m not frozen into a crystalline, unchanging form. If I choose to re-invent myself and my writing, what I write has nothing to do with the URL and everything to do with me.

However, I am eliminating the publicly published blogroll entirely, even as a secondary page. I know Halley considers this a selfish act, but blogrolls neither help community, not add to the value of writing. In fact, I’ve chatted with Dave Sifrey and Kevin about eliminating persistent links such as blogroll links from the Technorati measurements, focusing instead on links that are included within writing. Kevin has already cleaned out most of the non-weblog links from the rolls, but filtering out persistent links is going to be a harder algorithm to derive though I have no doubts they are, at least, considering it.

(I’ve always admired Dave for being one of those people who continues to listen to his clients, individually and as a group, regardless of how successful his enterprises are.)

Weblogging is, in part, community, true, but I don’t need blogrolls to become part of the community, and blogrolls aren’t going to give me entree into any circles. Connecting with people deliberatly is what makes a community, not putting a link up in a sidebar and forgetting about it.

When I read something that should be commented on, or at least, pointed out, I’ll do so – just as I did with recent postings to Sheila, Yule, Loren, Doug, Liz, and even Halley. And the community can invite themselves in by commenting and I put their weblog URLs attached to their name in the Recent Comments/Trackbacks. Both serve to direct attention to sites in a, hopefully, more direct and meaningful way.

Jonathon Delacour wrote on this recently, in response to a general ‘argy-bargy’, the colloquial term he used to cover recent discussions about lack of exposure for women webloggers. He mentioned, admiringly, about Steven Den Beste’s practice of changing his blogroll to highlight new sites, and I agree, it is an effective approach. However, I would rather highlight what a person writes when they’ve written something that has amused, delighted, astonished, overwhelmed, outraged, or saddened me then to put the links in a blogroll. If, as some people think, a link is part of the semantic web, then I’d rather my links be meaningful. Or as Jonathon writes:

Perhaps bloggers would start to believe that if enough people (us) are doing the same thing (basing blogrolls and links on the quality and originality of the ideas and writing) then we must know something they don’t (that excellence rather than reputation deserves to be celebrated).

(Of course, I realize that people will most likely pull my link from their blogrolls, and if this is the way of satisfying ‘quid pro quo’, so be it. I rarely get visits from blogrolls any more: most people come here through aggregators such Bloglines, which I use, or pages such as Technorati. If my rank falls, and I am visited less, than that, too, tells me a story.)

When I choose to write and not do so as part of the community, then I want people to stop and read what I say rather than be sidetracked by changing blogrolls, or influenced because I include them, or not, in a blogroll. I don’t want to mix community and writing, because the one becomes both filter and censor on the other; at some point you can no longer tell if the silence or acclaim that greets your words is based on what you write, or who you are.


Works for me

Two political items from Sheila Lennon:

First this, on single women and our voting power:

“Never-married, divorced or widowed women constitute a whopping 20 percent of the electorate and 42 percent of all registered women voters. In the 2000 elections, they represented the same percentage of the electorate as Jews, blacks and Latinos combined. In terms of voting muscle, few can compete with the girl power of this constituency.”

From Reno Times

I’ve always known I’ve had power.

And then this post on which Rock The Vote commercial was voted best and Clark’s winning entry, Sheila wrote:

Clark is sitting around a table with college students. he’s just said he’s pro-choice, believes in affirmative action, and, in the same no-nonsense voice, continues, “I don’t care what the other candidates think, I don’t think Outkast is really breaking up. Big Boi and Andre 3000 just cut solo records, that’s all” followed by a high-five to one student.

Gone is the arrogant general who is always right with this ad. If Clark continues bringing into the elections this same wonderful, dry humor, and matches it up with a strong pro-environment and pro-labor stance, support for universal health care and equal rights, an effective solution for withdrawing from Iraq that won’t leave that country in the hands of the religious fundamentalists, as well as a solution for our horrifying deficit, he just might win a vote from this member of the single women voters.

Yule Heibel also wrote about the Clark ad, noting something I also noted – with the same uncomfortable and worried feeling:

Clark’s video on the other hand announced a new style, and while I was glad to see it being used by a Democratic candidate, seeing it as so clearly superior to the other crappy video spots made me sit bolt upright, because I realized that this is the approach which smart conservatives/ Republicans have been deploying.



I am in the midst of travels, just completed one trip, about to head out on another. I hadn’t planned on writing to the weblog during these trips except that I heard from a friend who asked if I was on Blogger Strike. Since that was one of my more asinine ideas, I didn’t want to leave the impression that I was sulking at home, on strike, waiting for someone to notice that I wasn’t talking; there are enough voices raised in mockingbird song or magpie chatter to cover the silences that issue from all of us at one time or another. That’s just the way weblogging is.

If nature abhors a vacuum, nature also abhors silence and when silence happens from one direction, noise, living noise rushes in from other directions and fills the void. That’s just the way life is.

My trip last week was related to family, and ended up being a difficult time, circumstances of which I have no interest in relating, and you have none in hearing. Combined with other things, I have been in a melancholy mood (yes anther melancholy mood, and if I continue, I am destined to be a poet and live a short, angst-filled life), and another reason for not necessarily wanting to write. On the road, I was listening to one ‘life done me wrong’ song after another, drooping further and further down into the seat of the car until all of me still visible to other drivers was two hands on a steering wheel; the ghostly hands that terrify drivers the world over, and normally the hands of that small, old person too shrunken by the weight of time to see over the steering wheel. You know the type.

The weather on the road was not good and I kept getting buffeted about by the wind, sliding a bit on the slick roads. The interstate was filled with semis and I’m used to being the small bird among the elephants except that one was acting mighty peculiar. It was a dark blue older semi, hauling what looked like farm equipment on an open bed, speeding like mad to stay behind me in the fast lane. He kept turning on his brights and turning them off, honking his horn, until a break in the music let me hear him and I came of my funk long enough to see his brights in my rear view mirror.

When I pulled over into the right lane and slowed down, he pulled up beside me, frantically pointing down at my wheel. I hit my emergency light indicator and started to gradually slow down, pulling over on to the shoulder, as best I could because it was a very small shoulder, and the freeway was a very busy, fast freeway. Getting out of my car, I could see why the driver was so determined to catch me – my driver’s side rear tire was flat, and I had no idea, thinking that the problems I was having driving were due to the wearther, and frankly, not paying enough attention to what was going on around me.

Well this was a first for me and I pulled my manual out, and looked at the little tire wrench and the little temporary they give you, but soon realized that I had no interest in playing “Kiss my Butt” with all the semis driving past. I called 911 who sent a tow truck out to haul that selfsame butt to a tire place to get butt’s tire fixed. Seems I ran over a nail somewhere. Also seems that if I had continued as I was in the bad weather, according to the tire person, I might have run into considerable problems.

Thank you, Mr. Truck Driver, who ever and where ever you are.

Getting home yesterday later than expected and tired, I do what I usually do in the evenings and caught up with the weblogs I enjoy reading, including Loren Webster’s It was the Worst of Times, following from his earlier It was the Best of Times. In his first essay, Loren talks about Christmas past when he was a child and getting his first train one morning, and the joy he felt, and I felt tears in my eyes because I remember that same type of Christmas, but in my case it was a tricycle. I then read his second essay where he talks about Christmas spent in sadness and despair, in pain and in loss. He writes:

Unfortunately, I have even had some relatively sad Christmases after these two, Christmases without parents who had recently died, Christmases without children who were on the other side of the state. By now, Christmas has been permanently tinged with bittersweet memories that are now as much a part of the day as the magical moments I spent in the comfort of my parents’ home, untouched by divorce or tragedy for nearly twenty-two years.

Bittersweet memories. It was as if Loren had reached into the core of me and exposed the sadness and loneliness I was feeling as the holiday approached, bringing with it faint shadows of happier Christmases past; forcing me to face my increasingly dark mood.

Each year at this time, whether we will it or not, Christmas memories are exposed, laid out until the beginning of our time like the rings of a tree blasted down by lightening but never dying: this year was a good year, that year was not. But I didn’t want to look at Christmas this year, or to add another sad Christmas memory.

I sorrow with friends at their losses this year – Doug losing his father, Liz losing her brother-in-law – and I kick a bit because it doesn’t seem fair that these losses should happen now. However, as much as I felt sorrow for Doug and Liz, I felt pity for myself, more, and this is a darksome thing at any time of year, much less Christmas.

Isn’t there some kind of life guarantee, that Christmas is only supposed to be happy?

At times, life’s bitter threatens to overwhelm us with the sadness and the loss and the despair, but there is something within us, that echo of the child on Christmas morning, or the beginning of Chanukah, or the feasts of Eid al-Adha, or Dewali, or Kwanzaa, or the Lunar New Year, that brings with it the hope and the joy: the sweet that complements the sadness, as the sadness complements the sweet. Though joy is, as Loren writes so beautifully, fragile and ephemeral, it is enough. It must be enough.

No guarantees with life, you get what you’re given, including bitter events thrown our way, like the nail in my path on the road. But just as with my guardian angel warning me of my flat, or a train on Christmas morning, life also throws us joy and hope and goodness. We have no control over life’s losses or disappointments or gifts; the only control we have is how we live: whether we choose to embrace the bitter, or the sweet. Ultimately, that is the measure of all of us.

I will spend my Christmas on the road, alone, this year and this memory will form another ring and overall add to the texture of a life – and this is good and a gift. First, though, I have to get my tires checked and make sure they can handle a long journey – that the repair will hold, though I have no doubts it is good.

When my tire was repaired, the person who fixed it brought me the nail they found. He chuckled a bit when he pointed out the shape of the nail, which I decided to keep, as a memento.