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Tuesday, December 16, 2003

XML vs. RDF :: N x M vs. N + M 

via Ken MacLeod Yet, in the "just XML" world there is no one that I know of working on a "layer" that lets applications access a variety of XML formats (schemas) and treat similar or even logically equivalent elements or structures as if they were the same. This means each XML application developer has to do all of the work of integrating each XML format (schema): N xM. Forget the AI strawman, forget even the RDF model and format for a moment, and tell me that's not a problem -- today or foreseeable. The RDF model along with the logic and equivalency languages, like OWL (nee DAML+OIL), altogether referred to as "the Semantic Web", is the current W3C effort to address that problem. Factoring those equivalencies into a common layer allows application developers to work with an already-integrated model, and the libraries to do the work of mapping each schema to the integrated model using a shared schema definition: N + M One can take potshots at RDF for how it addresses the problem, and the Semantic Web for possibly reaching too far too quickly in making logical assertions based on relations modeled in RDF, but to dismiss it out of hand or resort to strawmen to attack it all while not recognizing the problem it addresses or offering an alternative solution simply tells me they don't see the problem, and therefore have no credibility in knocking RDF or the Semantic Web for trying to solve it.

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