W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-awwsw@w3.org > June 2009

Re: Are generic resources intentional?

From: David Booth <david@dbooth.org>
Date: Wed, 10 Jun 2009 12:55:54 -0400
To: Jonathan Rees <jar@creativecommons.org>
Cc: Pat Hayes <phayes@ihmc.us>, "Williams, Stuart (HP Labs, Bristol)" <skw@hp.com>, Alan Ruttenberg <alanruttenberg@gmail.com>, "noah_mendelsohn@us.ibm.com" <noah_mendelsohn@us.ibm.com>, AWWSW TF <public-awwsw@w3.org>
Message-Id: <1244652954.3705.133.camel@dbooth-laptop>
On Wed, 2009-06-10 at 12:22 -0400, Jonathan Rees wrote:
[ . . . ]
> Maybe it's that the URI is used in two ways - as a hypertext link or
> as a request-URI, it names the sort of agent-resource you're talking
> about, but in metadata of this sort, it's being taking to name a
> document, which is OK since RDF doesn't insist on models that agree
> with HTTP. 

Bingo!  This does *not* necessarily mean that such usage represents a
"URI collision"
Rather, it means that the resource identity associated with a URI is
partially indeterminate.   Ambiguity of resource identity is inherent
and inescapable, but that does not mean that we need to be paralyzed in
our use of URIs to denote resources.  It just means we need to get used
to this ambiguity.  

Just as the use of a URI to denote a particular person may turn out to
be ambiguous in an application that needs to distinguish between that
person as a legal entity versus that person as a living body, there is
no architectural reason why the same URI cannot be used to ambiguously
denote a web document or a potato.  One can legitimately argue that it
isn't good *practice* to do so, but that's a different issue, and as we
all know, what is good practice for one application may be bad practice
for another.

[ . . . ]
> I guess I'm looking for ontological pluralism here; I think sometimes
> you want these URIs to name agents, and sometimes you want them to
> name documents, and we should welcome other models in the interest of
> encouraging metadata generation. Just not sure how to get pluralism
> without reverting to the rocks-have-representations position.

That ontological pluralism is built in if we recognize that resource
identity is inherently ambiguous.  There is no *architectural* reason
why the same URI cannot both denote a rock and return a 200 response.
That problem is architecturally identical to the problem of ambiguity,
which is inescapable.

David Booth, Ph.D.
Cleveland Clinic (contractor)

Opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily
reflect those of Cleveland Clinic.
Received on Wednesday, 10 June 2009 16:56:29 UTC

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