RDF (an Entity Description Framework) isn’t a Format

Source: https://i.ytimg.com/vi/Uym2IIjXetM/maxresdefault.jpg

Situation Analysis

Since its inception, the W3C’s RDF (Resource Description Framework) has been misrepresented as a document content format. Net effect, utter confusion about an attempt to retrospectively standardize the fact that hyperlinks (HTTP URIs) can be used to create meaningful sentences comprehensible to both humans and machines; i.e., you can use hyperlinks to identify the subject, predicate, and object of a sentence en route to encoding and decoding of information (data in some context).

Why is RDF Clarity important?

Running parallel to RDF’s format–Vs–model confusion are increases in costs associated with problems that are uniquely addressed by RDF (the Data Definition/Description Language), such as:

  1. verifiable identity — controlled by individuals rather than third parties
  2. privacy — from email to social media
  3. coherent integration of data from disparate data sources — “Variety” component of the “Big Data” meme
  4. data de-silo-fication — allowing individuals full control over data flow rather than conceding that right to third party social media spaces
  5. smarter search engines that leverage structured metadata embedded in HTML documents — “pay for placement” cannot be the modus operandi of any serious search engine on the Web, no matter how dominant that search engine might think it is today

RDF Language and its many notations

What follows is an example that demonstrates how RDF Language sentences can be created using a variety of notations (HTML5+Microdata, JSON-LD, RDFa, RDF-Turtle, and "POSH" [Plain Old Semantic HTML]) and then exported using a preferred notation.

For this particular example, I am using a page from the Amazon AWS Marketplace that describes the Virtuoso PAGO (Pay As You Go) Cloud Edition. (Virtuoso is a multi-model RDBMS & Data Virtualization Platform that enables easy exploitation of RDF’s immense power.)

I am also leveraging the structured metadata discovery services of our Structured Data Sniffer Browser Extension.

RDF-based Structured Metadata Notation Examples

HTML5+Microdata Notation

The screenshot below displays structured metadata that Amazon includes in its AWS Marketplace pages.

Effect of clicking on the OSDS Browser Extension Icon

Here is a screenshot that shows how that metadata is yanked out of the browser’s internal document object repository and represented using JSON-LD notation.

Effect of clicking on the Download Action Icon and selecting JSON-LD as the output preference

Here is a screenshot that shows how that metadata is yanked out of the browser’s internal document object repository and represented using RDF-Turtle notation.

Effect of clicking on the Download Action Icon and selecting RDF-Turtle as the output preference

Plain Old Semantic HTML (POSH) Notation

The screenshot below displays structured metadata that Amazon includes in its AWS Marketplace pages.

Effect of clicking on the OSDS Browser Extension Icon and selecting the POSH Tab

Here is a screenshot that shows how that metadata is yanked out of the browser’s internal document object repository and represented using JSON-LD notation.

Effect of clicking on the Download Action Icon and selecting JSON-LD as the output preference

Here is a screenshot that shows how that metadata is yanked out of the browser’s internal document object repository and represented using RDF-Turtle notation.

Effect of clicking on the Download Action Icon and selecting RDF-Turtle as the output preference

Conclusion

RDF, by acronym expansion, is the Resource (Entity) Description Framework, i.e., a Language (a system of signs, syntax, and semantics for encoding and decoding information [data in some context]). Fundamentally, once you get beyond its historic misconception as a document content format, the World Wide Web (or your private HTTP-network) becomes a much more powerful platform beyond its current exploitation patterns — which have reduced it to an eyeball-centric mass-media space, rife with privacy compromises, driven by obtrusive advertising-based business models.

Most important of all, understanding RDF is a shortcut to comprehending the role of the World Wide Web as a powerful Artificial Intelligence Platform; basically, a platform that will be exploited by autonomous user agents equipped with the ability to understand information conveyed in RDF-based digital sentences.

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