May 22, 2003
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RDF: The Challenge

Tim Bray helped invent RDF, the metadata standard that underpins the semantic Web. Now, he thinks RDF is broken.

"RDF has ignored what I consider to be the central lesson of the World Wide Web, the “View Source” lesson. The way the Web grew was, somebody pointed their browser at a URI, were impressed by what they saw, wondered “How'd they do that?”, hit View Source, and figured it out by trial and error.

"This hasn't happened and can't happen with RDF, for two reasons. First of all, the killer app that would make you want to View Source hasn't arrived. Second, if it had, nobody could possibly figure out what the source was trying to tell them. I don't know how to fix the no-killer-apps problem, but I'm pretty sure it's not worth trying until we fix the uglified-syntax problem.

A superb essay, with valuable historical background and constructive proposals, this is a must-read.