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by Jay Fienberg

Relationship vocabulary, rated PG

posted: Mar 13, 2004 11:02:47 PM

Ian Davis' and Eric Vitiello Jr's Relationship vocabulary looks really well done, and, as their examples show, can immediately be of use in adding finer granularity to people-relationship linking: in FOAF directly, and in XHTML using rel/rev attributes, in the same vein as XFN (via Danny Ayers).

Perhaps appropriately, you are still left to your own devices if you need a vocabulary for describing, um, adult-only relationships—I won't enumerate them here, but I expect everyone over the age of 18 can imagine a few choice terms that might be called-for were we going for historical accuracy. Maybe there needs to be a separate "thang" vocabulary (you know: x had a thang with y, x did thangs with y, etc., where thang, of course, could be more explicit specific).

Either that, or maybe the Relationship vocabulary just needs another property added: knowsBiblical, defined as "knows in the biblical sense".

(Hey, we're still talking about the web, right?)

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Comment by: Frank Geerlings ·
posted: Mar 17, 2004 7:12:16 AM

I suppose you are referring to abc:hasCarnalKnowledgeOf? I can't be sure, because euphemisms often don't translate well to other languages. That makes them less than perfect for property names.

Comment by: Jay Fienberg ·
posted: Mar 17, 2004 11:15:55 AM

Right. Part of what I am jabbing at is that classification is contextual (e.g., you are highlighting how there is a culture / language context within which I defined this "property"; and outside of that context, this "property" is a euphemism that doesn't translate well).

What we choose to classify and how we choose to classify it depends on a specific context of our priorities / concerns. (So, within more global contexts like the whole Internet or our common world society, we should expect a plurality of classification schemes.)

For example, I might want to use the relationship vocabulary for a geneaology of my ancestors that I use to create a chart for my family, but I might not want to use it to describe my present relationships to my family. In the first context, the vocabulary might match my concerns, but in the latter, it's properties won't translate.

Comment awaiting approval
posted: Mar 21, 2006 12:31:20 PM

trackback from: the iCite net development blog
posted: Mar 24, 2004 3:07:21 PM
title: Shirky on the Relationship vocabulary

In response to Shirky's first critique, I wrote a long letter that I decided to trash and not send or publish . . . but . . . I felt like I should retrieve some of my letter, put it a little differently, and publish it here

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