Diversity RDF


My roommate surprised me with a wonderful gift tonight, a movie I’ve been trying to find on DVD for a long time. The movie is “Mr. Baseball” with Tom Selleck. It wasn’t a popular movie, and I doubt you’ve heard of it. It’s also not especially ‘artsy’ but I still love it. *

I wish I could say that I identify with the lovely Aya Takanashi, but to no avail. Her gentle refined sense of acceptance sounds wonderfully peaceful, and is exceedingly elegant, but I never have been one to just roll with the punches. I’m not particularly elegant, either.

No I tend to identify more strongly with Jack, Mr. Baseball. Its not as if I chew tobacco, maintain a rigid inflexibility, have a hairy chest, and am rude to people in their own land, the defining symbols of the protagonist; it’s more a matter of having a strong sense of self, a streak of stubbornness and defensiveness, and not always to the good.

When I say, strong sense of self, this doesn’t mean that I’m not a team player, I can be. My problem, as it was Jack’s, is I tend to play in the wrong teams. And then I’m too stubborn to admit it.

I watched this movie tonight as I thought about some of the discussions I got into this week. Especially the discussions about RDF. This has not necessarily been a great week for my book on RDF/XML because it’s caught up in the very real wars between the XML ‘view source’ people, and those who support RDF and RDF/XML.

I spent two years working on the Practical RDF book, all the time maintaining one firm decision – it was not going to be a book for the Semantic Web adherents; it was going to be a book for just plain folks. For people like me. I lost some respect from the theoreticians with this approach. Not all, but some. I can name you about 20 long-time RDF adherants who could have done a better job covering the theory behind RDF and the Semantic Web.

My book also tends to fall between the cracks – too RDF/XML for some, not enough RDF for others. And the title doesn’t help: who ever heard of combining ‘Practical’ and ‘RDF’? The title itself generates laughter, sometimes with me, sometimes not.

However, I knew that if the Semantic Web is ever going to become real, it’s going to come about because of the same people who created today’s web, and this book is written for those people. Look in a mirror – that’s who created today’s web, and that’s where the Semantic Web of the future is coming from.

Lately, I’ve been spending considerable time with the Alpha Geeks, the P/E/A revolutionaries, and the XML view source people, and there’s just no return for me in this. Smart, dedicated, and too damn stubborn themselves, they’re good people and they make good team members. But they’re not my team. I’m not an Alpha Geek or a P/E/A revolutionary. I’m definitely not an XML view source person.

The technology is important to me, but it’s not a religion. If I support RDF/XML its because I want us to move on and do something with it. What’s more important to me is not that I win wars for RDF/XML; it’s that the technology is accessible and understandable to everyone, not just the Geeks.

I once thought that the disconnect between me and the Alpha Geeks was because they were primarily men, and I was a woman; sometimes the only woman. I realized today that I was wrong – in most cases gender has nothing to do with it. The disconnect is because we come from such different backgrounds, and our focus, interests, and talents are different.

Oh there’s a few pricks who get threatened by any woman smarter than a gerbil, You can recognize them – anytime a woman disagrees with them, they’re either being “hormonal” or “hysterical”. And as we’ve discussed, time and time again, men and women play together differently. But for most of the Alpha Geeks, gender really isn’t the issue. Passion, interest, and focus are, and in these we differ. The differences left me feeling like odd man out, making me defensive, but too damn stubborn to just get out, to realize I need to let go.

It was an epiphany for me, let me tell you. Kick in the pants time.

So, I’m making some changes, starting with closing down the Practical RDF weblog. I’m re-focusing on the …For Poets weblogs. They may not be for everyone, too poetic or wordy by far for many of my Alpha Geek friends and others, but I like them.

*And the noodle dinner scene cracks me up, every time.

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