[tdwg-tag] RDF/OWL Good Practices Task Group

Steve Baskauf steve.baskauf at vanderbilt.edu
Sat Sep 24 23:21:40 CEST 2011

Because of the way this thread is developing, I feel the need to set the 
record straight about the history of the chartering the RDF group.  When 
I came into the TDWG "world" several years ago, I was totally clueless.  
I wanted to find out the answers to a number of questions that I had and 
after some time, I realized that to some extent people hadn't figured 
out exactly what the answers were to those questions.  In the particular 
case of RDF, it became clear to me that although there were a number of 
ideas floating around about how things should work, none of them 
actually had a "stamp of approval" of TDWG because there was no 
developed standard in the form of either a technical specification or an 
applicability statement about how RDF should be used in the biodiversity 
realm.  (The possible exception to this is the "TDWG ontology" which is 
incomplete and whose "finished" part is focused primarily on the Taxon 
class.  But even that isn't a ratified standard.)  It wasn't until 
Stan's email of Oct 13 last year 
that I had a clear idea of how the process of standards creation and 
documentation worked within TDWG and what the role of Interest and Task 
Groups was within that process.  After that point, it became clear to me 
that despite the extensive discussion on the topic of RDF that had taken 
place on the tdwg-content email list, there probably wasn't ever going 
to be any motion towards a any official TDWG guidelines on the use of 
RDF unless somebody got the ball rolling on an Interest or Task Group 
dealing with the subject.  Six months went by after Stan's email 
clarifying what was necessary to move the process forward and nobody 
(including you, Pete) made any moves toward organizing a TDWG group 
focused on RDF.  With considerable trepidation, I decided to try to get 
the ball rolling and make an attempt to recruit people who would be 
willing to serve as core members of the group.  I would like to note for 
the record that you were one of the first people whom I tried to recruit 
as a core member (and you declined). 

I really don't understand what you mean when you say "It is not clear to 
me if this new group will be any different from the previous group where 
some mysterious entity decided ...".  What is the "previous" or "old" 
group?  As far as I know there never has been a previous group.  If you 
are talking about the TAG, I've already complained about the lack of 
clarity about who the TAG is.  But I chalk that up to lack of 
organization and busyness on the part of the participants, not a 
conspiracy.  But there certainly is no mystery about the proposed IG/TG 
- those who've agreed to serve as core members are listed on the 
proposed charter. No "mystery people".

You have stated in this email (as well as in some earlier ones) that you 
designed TaxonConcept so that it could be taken up by some other group 
(presumably TDWG).  That is a laudable goal and you have provided some 
of the best existing examples of "how things can be done".  But I think 
that you are being unrealistic to expect that your work will somehow be 
adopted as-is by TDWG, given that TDWG is supposed to be an organization 
driven by consensus.  We have seen over the past couple years what a 
long and drawn out process it is just to get even a single term added to 
Darwin Core, let alone getting the community to accept an entire 
ontology as you are hoping.  Add to that the fact that a lot of people 
are confused about RDF and what it's for (and also the fact that some 
people doubt its utility), it shouldn't be any surprise that 
taxonconcept.org hasn't been adopted by TDWG by acclamation.

I also do not understand what you mean when you say "...when I proposed 
such a group earlier on multiple occasions".  I've been following the 
email list for several years now and I haven't seen any occasion where 
you or anybody else has proposed chartering an Interest/Task Group on 
this topic.  If you wanted to propose an Interest/Task Group to look at 
RDF issues, you could have done exactly what Joel and I are doing now: 
recruit core members and write up a charter.  But you didn't do that. 

I expect that when it gets off the ground, the RDF IG/TG will take a 
serious look at the approach taken by TaxonConcept.org along with all of 
the other relevant vocabularies and ontologies that are out there to 
represent the diverse parts of the universe that biodiversity 
informatics interfaces with. 


Peter DeVries wrote:
> Hi Joel,
> I thought I should let you know that I have been working on a paper 
> with some people from the EoL on this very subject.
> In fact the whole goal of the TaxonConcept/GeoSpecies project is setup 
> examples and work these issues out.
> It is not clear to me if this new group will be any different from the 
> previous group where some mysterious entity decided what suggestions 
> were to accepted and who would get attribution for that suggestion.
> If this new group operates like the old group then it is not in my 
> best interest or many others to participate.
> What I would like to avoid are the experiences I had implementing 
> features and making changes which later the person who requested the 
> modification "changes their mind".
> If you go back to the reasoning as to why part of TaxonConcept were 
> done in the way that they were you will see it was in part to allow it 
> to be portable and able to be taked up by some other group.
> In a sense, an early version of a semantic web version of the Darwin 
> Core already exists in TaxonConcept.
> So what is the reasoning behind this new group that is different from 
> the reasoning I used when I proposed such a group earlier on multiple 
> occasions? 
> Respectfully,
> - Pete
> On Mon, Sep 19, 2011 at 2:46 PM, joel sachs <jsachs at csee.umbc.edu 
> <mailto:jsachs at csee.umbc.edu>> wrote:
>     Greetings everyone,
>     After some back and forth amongst Steve Baskauf, myself, Greg
>     Whitbread,
>     and the executive, we've decided to move forward with an RDF/OWL task
>     group, convened under the TAG. Our task will be to deliver a document
>     comprising
>     i. use cases and competency questions;
>     ii. well documented examples of addressing those use cases via rdf and
>     sparql; and
>     iii. discussion of advantages and disadvantages of the approaches
>     illustrated by the examples.
>     Our draft charter is at
>     http://code.google.com/p/tdwg-rdf/wiki/CharterOfTG
>     and we welcome comments, suggestions, and better ideas. One area where
>     we're still open is the question of whether or not our deliverable
>     should
>     be an official Best Current Practice document [1]. The charter
>     reflects
>     our current feeling that it should not. After we deliver our "book
>     of use
>     cases and examples", options would include being re-chartered by
>     the TAG
>     to produce a best practices document, spinning off as a "Semantic Web
>     Interest Group", or disbanding (either in triumph or despair).
>     When we were planning to convene as an Interest Group, several of you
>     accepted our invitation to serve as core members, and we hope that
>     convening as a Task Group does not change your willingness to do
>     so. If
>     you would like to be a core member of the group, and we haven't yet
>     contacted you, there's a good chance that we will. But don't wait!
>     Feel
>     free to volunteer for core membership. (And recall that you don't
>     have to
>     be a "core member to" contribute.)
>     In regards timeline, I'd like to incorporate any feedback we
>     receive, and
>     submit the charter to the executive at the end of this week, in
>     hopes of
>     being chartered by New Orleans.
>     Many thanks!
>     Joel.
>     1. http://www.tdwg.org/standards/status-and-categories/
>     _______________________________________________
>     tdwg-tag mailing list
>     tdwg-tag at lists.tdwg.org <mailto:tdwg-tag at lists.tdwg.org>
>     http://lists.tdwg.org/mailman/listinfo/tdwg-tag
> -- 
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Pete DeVries
> Department of Entomology
> University of Wisconsin - Madison
> 445 Russell Laboratories
> 1630 Linden Drive
> Madison, WI 53706
> Email: pdevries at wisc.edu <mailto:pdevries at wisc.edu>
> TaxonConcept <http://www.taxonconcept.org/>  &  GeoSpecies 
> <http://about.geospecies.org/> Knowledge Bases
> A Semantic Web, Linked Open Data <http://linkeddata.org/>  Project
> --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Steven J. Baskauf, Ph.D., Senior Lecturer
Vanderbilt University Dept. of Biological Sciences

postal mail address:
VU Station B 351634
Nashville, TN  37235-1634,  U.S.A.

delivery address:
2125 Stevenson Center
1161 21st Ave., S.
Nashville, TN 37235

office: 2128 Stevenson Center
phone: (615) 343-4582,  fax: (615) 343-6707

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: http://lists.tdwg.org/pipermail/tdwg-tag/attachments/20110924/97f04e32/attachment.html 

More information about the tdwg-tag mailing list