I am not the church and RDF is not the earth

The discussion continues on using RDF/XML for the new Pie/Echo/Atom syndication feed, in Sam’s comments and in the email list. I even had a very fun time in the echo IRC yesterday, though I’m not a particularly adept IRC person.

(I did find out about the use of /me, and went crazy using it as a result.)

I’m glad these conversations are happening now. I would like to work with the Pie/Echo/Atom folks as much as possible promoting the idea of using RDF/XML for the syndication feed, but not at the expense of hiding what this means for the feed in the long run. I do have interests in showing how using RDF/XML can be helpful, beneficial, and not that complicated; but I have no interest in sneaking it in through the backdoor.

In the first chapter of Practical RDF, I wrote:


RDF is a wonderful technology, and I’ll be at the front in its parade of fans. However, I don’t consider it a replacement for other technologies, and I don’t consider its use appropriate in all circumstances. Just because data is on the Web, or accessed via the Web, doesn’t mean it has to be organized with RDF. Forcing RDF into uses that don’t realize its potential will only result in a general push back against RDF in its entirety—including push back in uses in which RDF positively shines.

RDF and RDF/XML aren’t for every person or every project. The most I can do is gently work with those reluctant in its use, suggest it where appropriate, demonstrate it here and elsewhere, and be philosophical if it’s use is rejected.

The editor for Practical RDF is my friend Simon St. Laurent, a person who I admire and greatly respect. He was the perfect editor not only because he’s a adept and skilled and a great writer in his own right; but also because he is not an obsessive fan of RDF. Neither one of us wanted Practical RDF to be a ‘fan book’. Both of us realize the problems associated with the perception of the specification, and more specifically the constraints of the markup.

Simon recently wrote a rant, as he styled it, on RDF/XML. I link to it here not to chastise or disagree, but because I found it to be well written and concise in where the pushback against RDF is arising.

I think the reason why I don’t have as much problem with RDF/XML as others is because I’ve been working with RDF/XML about as long as I’ve been working with plain XML. To me, there is no problem with the syntax because I’m so comfortable with it, pure and simple. I need to reminded that others are less so, and I’m grateful when they write their reasons, clearly and bluntly.

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