2006-12-27

A couple of things I've been about lately

I've been silent here for over two months now, my blogging time devoted to the Mondeca blog in French Leçons de Choses. But there is a couple of things I've been working on, worth mentioning.

I've exchanged with Michel Biezunski on his Data Projection Model , and found out that its genericity and simplicity made it easy and straightforward to express the structure of Mondeca ITM, without the borderline hacking needed when using either OWL-RDF or XTM for the same task. Now open questions: What will happen with that model? Who will see the benefits over languages already in this space, and singularly over RDF? Who will build tools supporting it?

Been wondering if a semiotic approach could shed some light on our thoughts on referents, and came out with a RDF semiotic triangle. The URI is the signifier, the RDF description is the formalisation of the signified concept associated with the URI. The referent is out of the language and signs realm, and should stay there. In this approach, attempting to achieve a representation of the referent, even using tricks as blank resources or hubjects of any kind, is therefore a recursive trap and actually a non-sense. So any declaration of same-ness or identity of referents should be avoided. Only concepts bear identity, not their referents. From that point on, came to the idea that linking different concepts/signs (URI + RDF description) which humans consider to have more or less similar referent will take the form of processing rules, more than declarative semantics.

Thanks to Jakob Voss for this post in a long thread on public-esw-thes list, which really triggered a kind of illumination about this. As an example, trying to say that my SKOS concept a:Restaurant has the same referent as your OWL class b:Restaurant through any RDF declarative relation between those two resources shoud be avoided. But I can set in my system a functional rule expressing that any document of which subject is an instance of your b:Restaurant class will be indexed against my a:Restaurant concept. The referent is represented nowhere, but it is acting at the core of this rule.

Actually we have this very indexing rule mechanism working in some Mondeca applications, and I have submitted a paper to XTech 2007 about it. More to come if ever the paper is selected.

Lately, got interested again in triggering some process to have languages available not only as tags to use in XML, but as proper RDF resources. This is an old story tracking back to OASIS Published Subjects Technical Committees, and singularly PSI for languages. Track this topic on ESW Wiki, and see here for ongoing thread and more explanations. There again, my proposal is to forget absolute identification of a language by a URI. Concepts identified by URI are the properties and property values than can be declared for a language, and let applications decide on which properties are useful to them. No absolute rule saying that two descriptions refer to the same language.