Rdf usage (updated)ΒΆ

Tags: work

Yesterday I wrote about taking only the good parts of web services. Bill de hÓra listed RDF in his "own list"http://www.dehora.net/journal/2004/04/on_message.html of the web services stack. That prompted a question "why RDF?".

Bill replied with an article on how he uses RDF. RDF is in there, because I know people are using it, but aren't talking about it so much.

My RDF needs are relatively low level (think operations, systems management) compared to most of the talk around RDF (ontology, content management). It can be summed up as follows - "what is it, where is it?". "Why is it, how is it" isn't on the radar yet. When you use RDF this way, it proves to be cheap and cost-effective - no agonizing about models, no pollution of your XML vocabularies. Just useful data.

So using RDF's mechanism of identifying things (URIs are used as identifiers) and talking about those things (sets of {subject, property, value} triples) works well. I agree. You can get a lot of mileage out of plain RDF without creating schemas or ontologies. I've used it to export an existing classification to an RDF file to use it as a chapter structure. No need to write an database schema or so. No need for an ontology.

Ontologies can be very handy, though. If you need the same data in multiple places and only want to enter certain information (labels, descriptions) once. If you need to communicate and cooperate with other people.

Well, it's nice to see someone talking so plain about RDF. It's just plain useful.

Update: Also small and good to read: a reply to this by Leigh Dodds.

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My name is Reinout van Rees and I work a lot with Python (programming language) and Django (website framework). I live in The Netherlands and I'm happily married to Annie van Rees-Kooiman.

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