[tdwg-tag] RDF/OWL Good Practices Task Group
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
> - 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
> 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
> 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
> and we welcome comments, suggestions, and better ideas. One area where
> we're still open is the question of whether or not our deliverable
> be an official Best Current Practice document . The charter
> 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!
> 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!
> 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>
> 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.
2125 Stevenson Center
1161 21st Ave., S.
Nashville, TN 37235
office: 2128 Stevenson Center
phone: (615) 343-4582, fax: (615) 343-6707
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