[Tdwg-guid] [tdwg-tag] Another reason why RDF is cool

Steven Perry smperry at ku.edu
Wed Sep 20 22:48:58 CEST 2006

I like to think of RDF as one of those technologies that makes it easy 
to do easy things (Rod's position) and possible to do hard things (my 
position, and perhaps Gregor's)

Roger was talking about how to generate a spreadsheet to fill in based 
on an RDFS vocabulary.  We use the reverse process for browsing data 
through the WASABI portal  (part of the project formerly known as 
DiGIR2).  This is a common approach with RDF-based portals like the 
Semantic Web Environmental Directory (SWED).  Building what Roger 
describes could be quite easy or it could be quite difficult; it all 
depends upon the complexity of the underling ontology.


Gregor Hagedorn wrote:
> Hi, some comments on http://semant.blogspot.com/2006/09/adding-triples-using-
> editgrid.html:
> A practical problem is of course the choice of predicates from a vocabulary of 
> millions of potential URIs. In prinicpal, that is universal, but it is relevant 
> if the assumption is that raw tools suffice and are easy. This reminds me a bit 
> of the older DELTA pioneers who simply had remembered the their characters and 
> state numbers (i.e. equivalent of URIs) by heart.
> A more general thing that bothers me about using RDF: if I have many such 
> statements without knowing who made them (e.g. someone I know, someone I know 
> can identify this ant, someone I know cannot), perhaps when (I myself as a 
> student years ago or just now), and under which circumstances (including 
> whether from own observation or citing other sources), these data become of 
> doubtful value.
> Dealing with this in RDF using reification mechanism seems to be a management 
> problem. I belief treating statements as naturally related (e.g. a chapter in a 
> book, a wiki page) is more natural than treating them as atomic.
> Gregor Hagedorn
>> I know that there is some scepticism about RDF, so I thought I'd relate  
>> an experience I had yesterday at The Natural History Museum in London.  
>> A colleague of mine has often complained about how hard it is to get  
>> his data (and data others have) into a useful form for the web, and  
>> that efforts such as the Semantic Web only seem to make this harder.
>> So, as an experiment, I attempted to get some information about an ant  
>> image into a local triple store. This involved putting some triples in  
>> a table using EditGrid (an online spreadsheet), grabbing the XML,  
>> converting it to RDF, and importing that into the triple store. See  
>> here for details:  
>> http://semant.blogspot.com/2006/09/adding-triples-using-editgrid.html.
>> The bottom line is that it was trivially easy to go from a spreadsheet  
>> to a triple store, and hence add new information about this ant.  
>> Writing it up in the blog took as long as the actual work.
>> This particular example concerns one image harvested from the web.  
>> Things like adding distribution records in bulk would be even easier.
>> So, my question is this: is there anything other than RDF that can make  
>> this as straightforward as it is? If so, I'd love to hear it...
>> Regards
>> Rod
>> ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 
>> ----------------------------------------
>> Professor Roderic D. M. Page
>> Editor, Systematic Biology
>> Graham Kerr Building
>> University of Glasgow
>> Glasgow G12 8QP
>> United Kingdom
>> Phone:    +44 141 330 4778
>> Fax:      +44 141 330 2792
>> email:    r.page at bio.gla.ac.uk
>> web:      http://taxonomy.zoology.gla.ac.uk/rod/rod.html
>> iChat:    aim://rodpage1962
>> reprints: http://taxonomy.zoology.gla.ac.uk/rod/pubs.html
>> Subscribe to Systematic Biology through the Society of Systematic
>> Biologists Website:  http://systematicbiology.org
>> Search for taxon names: http://darwin.zoology.gla.ac.uk/~rpage/portal/
>> Find out what we know about a species: http://ispecies.org
>> Rod's rants on phyloinformatics: http://iphylo.blogspot.com
>> Rod's rants on ants: http://semant.blogspot.com
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> ----------------------------------------------------------
> Gregor Hagedorn (G.Hagedorn at bba.de)
> Institute for Plant Virology, Microbiology, and Biosafety
> Federal Research Center for Agriculture and Forestry (BBA)
> Königin-Luise-Str. 19           Tel: +49-30-8304-2220
> 14195 Berlin, Germany           Fax: +49-30-8304-2203
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