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W3C documents are rather obtuse. It's easy to fall asleep while reading them.

This isn't to knock the W3C; we wouldn't be here if it weren't for them. There's certainly a need for necessary but boring documentation. The things they're writing about are interesting, so why should it be boring? Sadly this reasoning doesn't follow. A jet fighter is quite exciting, but I wouldn't expect the manual to be.

Nontheless, this is an attempt to improve on the W3C's writing style. With this wiki, we can rewrite concepts in plain talk.

Here's a paragraph from the RDF primer.

"The Resource Description Framework (RDF) is a language for representing information about resources in the World Wide Web. It is particularly intended for representing metadata about Web resources, such as the title, author, and modification date of a Web page, copyright and licensing information about a Web document, or the availability schedule for some shared resource. However, by generalizing the concept of a "Web resource", RDF can also be used to represent information about things that can be identified on the Web, even when they cannot be directly retrieved on the Web. Examples include information about items available from on-line shopping facilities (e.g., information about specifications, prices, and availability), or the description of a Web user's preferences for information delivery."

How about this instead?

The Resource Description Framework (RDF) is a language for telling computers about resources on the web. Usually, this sort of computer language talks about web resources, such as web pages. These languages talk about the pages title, author, copyright and licensing, when it was last changed, and so forth. RDF can talk about web resouces like that. But with RDF, you can also go far beyond that. For example, you could use RDF to talk about material things, like cars, books, and groceries. You can use RDF to describe how much the things cost, how big they are, where they are, and how to ship them to people. You can even use RDF to talk about customers themselves- how they like web sites to appear, what kinds of things they are interested in, and what advertising they respond to.

Even though the paragraph is now human readable, it still has two flaws.

  1. Both paragraphs make it look like RDF is all about merchandise.
  2. Both paragraphs neglect to explain what's special about RDF: Don't databases know about cars, books, and other such things already?

I hope that this wiki will help us understand RDF and the SemanticWeb in plain talk.


(Please don't write interrupted thread mode. It makes it very hard to read the page.)

Fair enough. Just trying to make Wiki:RefactoringWikiPages easier. guest

The W3C won't take my edits... they will now!

guest wrote that the reason that W3C documents are obtuse, is because I didn't direct criticism towards the document during a "public comment" phase.

It's my belief that comments saying "This is really obtuse" wouldn't get very far, even if it was a "public comment" period. Most of the time, professional people seem to believe that they must write obtusely for some reason.

It depends what profession you are talking about, but I agree with you broadly.  I suspect it's to intimidate the uninitiated.  It adds a sense of importance to what you are doing if others can't understand it. guest

If it turns out that the W3C would accept my edits to their writing, I would be overjoyed. Somehow, I don't think that will happen.

I see that you can now make edits to ScalableVectorGraphicsDraft. Joy!

But what does RDF do to make it easier?

guest also wrote: You may know this, and are just making a rhetorical point, but: RDF allows one to exchange such information between databases (collections of assertions about the world stored in a structured format) that store the information in different formats. So two databases storing information about cars, but do it in different ways, can share information.

I understand the idea that RDF makes it so you can exchange data stored in different formats.
What I don't understand is how this is better than other ways. I have some intuition into the matter, but nothing articulated. What we need is clear words explaining exactly how it is that RDF makes it so easy to get all these database systems hooked up with each other.