Ignore the fact that it’s working

Uche Ogbuji is another voice raised in the “RDF is too hard, make it more simple” crew that seems to be have reached a crises all at the same time. Perhaps it’s the moon. Maybe it’s the water.

Uche wrote:

I get the feeling that in trying to achieve the ontological purity needed for the Semantic Web, it’s starting to leave the desperate hacker behind. I used to be confident I could instruct people on almost all of RDF’s core model in an hour. I’m no longer so confident, and the reality is that any technology that takes longer than that to encompass is doomed to failure on the Web.

Well damn, there goes my use of MySQL. PHP, too. I’m also working with REST and SOAP. Then there’s syndication feeds–if anyone thinks you can talk about ’syndication feed’ in less than an hour, you don’t know the people associated with RSS, RDF/RSS, or Atom.

Uche also mentions microformats, but as he’s found, these are anchored to whatever structure is used within a web page, and that’s not encompassing enough for all metadata needs. He then goes on to say that he’ll stick with RDF for now, hoping to be able to do what he needs to do without the more escoteric elements getting in the way.

Getting in the way. Hmmm. Well, let’s see:

Mozilla/Firefox has been quietly using RDF for much of its underlying menu structure and other uses for six years or so now.

RDF/RSS, known as RSS 1.0, has been providing syndication feeds for years.

FOAF is used to drive out networking in various environments.

Isn’t there a music site that outputs its data in RDF? I know the government is heavily into it, but that’s not necessarily a recommendation.

As for my own work, I update the metadata in my photographs in PhotoShop, which is used to provide information such as name, description to Flickr when I upload the pictures. When I embed a photo in this page, I create a data store of RDF information for the photos either by accessing this data directly from the photo, or getting it from web service calls from Flickr. This includes translating the EXIF data into RDF/XML format. I then make all of this accessible just by attaching /rdf/ to any post. This is used to drive out Tinfoil Project, and the photo page. In the photo page, I also reference the Google Maps API to use the geotagging included in RDF to pinpoint on a map where the photo was taken. I also have uses to manage my syndication feed, as well as providing references and pointers to other externally associated web pages.

And these are just the beginning of the uses of RDF I’m incorporating into my pages. Best of all, the data that I generate has been picked up by others–I know because I was asked to clean up my use of dates, which I did. Which means then you can use the data however you want.

Every technology has its controversial elements, its more escoteric side. Most technology has aspects that many of the people using it aren’t even aware. RDF is no different, and one can get by using RDF without even once having to become proficient with reification, or use a container. I know this. I have proved this. I have created several applications, have tried to give away code, have written about it time and again and what…not a damn thing. But then, I’m not one of the heads of RDF.

(What makes a person a ‘head’ in RDF? I could define ‘head’ at this moment, but this is a PG 13 weblog post.)

What’s even more frustrating is that when I focused on the more practical aspects of RDF before the specification was even on the street, I did not receive universal approbation from the RDF community for the fact that my coverage of these more escoteric elements was light. Or that I covered this implementation but not that, and so on. Now, these same people are calling out for a ‘kinder, simpler’ RDF.

*bang bang bang* If a technologist falls over in the forest, does she make a sound?

I am giving a talk called “Pushing Triples: An Introduction to Street RDF” at XML 2005, but I’ve about had it with talking.

I was once challenged to put code down to prove a point. So here is my response: put your code on the table, gentleman. Put your code down. I have.

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