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Re: Back to HTTP semantics

From: Pat Hayes <phayes@ihmc.us>
Date: Mon, 15 Jun 2009 15:14:08 -0500
Cc: Jonathan Rees <jar@creativecommons.org>, David Booth <david@dbooth.org>, AWWSW TF <public-awwsw@w3.org>
Message-Id: <616BBCED-70BA-47CF-907C-C41D45C6104A@ihmc.us>
To: "Williams, Stuart (HP Labs, Bristol)" <skw@hp.com>

On Jun 15, 2009, at 1:27 PM, Williams, Stuart (HP Labs, Bristol) wrote:

> Hello Pat,
> <snip/>
>>>> I don't read them as making any such link. They are simply  
>>>> references
>>>> to establish, in the usual way of references in written technical
>>>> prose, what certain terms of art are intended to mean. So the  
>>>> RFC2369
>>>> reference in RDFMT establishes, normatively, that when the body  
>>>> prose
>>>> of RDFMT uses the phrase "URI", it means by that what RFC2369 means
>>>> by it, and not, say, to refer to the University of Rhode Island.  
>>>> BUt that
>>>> does not in itself establish the kind of link that you imply here,
>>>> which has to do with RDFMT treating URIs as names which refer in  
>>>> some
>>>> way established or influenced by RFC2369. In fact, RDFMT explicilty
>>>> denies this, in its own normative prose. As far as RDF semantics is
>>>> concerned, apart from  one or two corner cases (reification and
>>>> seeAlso), the Web could not exist at all and nothing would be
>>>> different.
>>> Fair enough... I won't argue about this, though I would say that the
>>> meme that RDF interpretration of URI are constrained by what might
>>> be called the Web natural interpretation is not original to me.
>> I understand. The RDFWG was of course aware of it and it came up
>> explicitly in the OWL debates under the rubric of "social meaning".  
>> It
>> was probably the most contentious issue we faced, so much so that we
>> decided to formally postpone it: but I was on the side of those who
>> wanted to give some guidance (in can't be more than that) in the spec
>> itself. But what I was reacting to in this thread was your  claim  
>> that
>> the normative references **themselves** address this possible link of
>> meaning. They don't.
> Yes... I know, I was perhaps trying to stretch things a little too  
> far. FWIW I remain intrigued about quite what is implied by a  
> reference that is normative - how much of its 'surrounding' world it  
> pulls in and quite how durable it is in the face of change - eg. RFC  
> 2396 -> RFC 3986.
>>> Whilst I can understand and appreciate the denial that you mention
>>> in RDFMT with respect to the formalism presented there in - leaving
>>> interpretation unconstrained by the web itself - I think there are
>>> many who see interpretation implicitly constrained in that way when
>>> one joins the logical system RDF with the pragmatics of the web.
>> Yes, of course, but the point is that there isnt (yet) anything
>> normative said about any such joining. Some folk feel that, as a
>> matter of principle, there should not be. I disagree, but the issue  
>> is
>> extremely contentious. Which is why I tend to get anal at suggestions
>> that the RDF MT implies things about it simply by referring
>> to RFC2369.
> Interesting, I suppose that I had taken the social meaning debate to  
> be more about the legal standing of a what a author might have said  
> by incanting a given set of triples and whether they could be held  
> to account for it in a court.

It was, partly, and that was where it got very heated. But they are  
all interconnected, and I think the legal stuff was just fanning the  
underlying semantic fire, in fact.

> I can see that the grounding of URIs is significant to such a  
> discussion - but at least at the time I'd not twigged that acted at  
> the intersection of RDF/Web interpretations of URI.
>>> Eg. If in RDF one were to use http://www.w3.org as a reference to my
>>> left foot, there would be an inconsistency in the total system even
>>> that were not so from the RDF interpretation alone.
>> Well, you need to say what you mean by 'inconsistency' here.
> I mean something along the lines of saying that organisations and  
> left-feet are disjoint - but I'll concede that the inuition that http://www.w3.org 
>  names either an organisation or its 'homepage' on the web (and I'll  
> confess to not knowing which - but suspecting the latter) is a human  
> intuition that I could not defend logically.
>> Apparently you aren't using the term in its logical sense.
>> What sense  are you using it in? You seem to be pointing along a  
>> road to a new
>> research area, which should probably be called 'web semantics' or  
>> (I prefer) 'blogic'.
>> But this requires some new science that hasn't been done yet.
> Interesting... I think that you're serious - in which case you'll  
> probably have to ask me more questions. But there is a chance that  
> you're having some fun with me :-)

I really am serious (here, anyway.) I'm putting together a kind of  
overview, gathering together a number of hot-button issues in Web  
semantics that just never even remotely arose in traditional logical  
theory, and why they matter. The whole http-range-14 thing is one, of  
course, and another is the ubiquitous mis(?)-use of owl:sameAs.  
Another is the fact that people routinely make use/mention confusions,  
and it doesnt seem to matter. (Why the hell not? According to logic,  
it should matter.) Another is the fact that all OWL and logical  
ontologies use 'forall', but they are all talking about different  
universes... I think...

And I'm quite proud of 'blogic', by the way. That's from Web Logic, of  

Gotta run, and I'll be offline for a couple of days.


>>>>> Without such normative references I'd agree that there is  
>>>>> nothing to
>>>>> drive such a conclusion... but with them... Roughly speaking I'd
>>>>> regard the normative references as constrainting the RDF
>>>>> intepretation of URIs with the 'normal' web interpretation of URIs
>>>>> (at least for those that have the latter).
>>>> Those references don't constrain the RDF interpretation of URIs  
>>>> in any
>>>> way at all. Not a smidgeon. In any case, RFC2369 simply does not  
>>>> speak
>>>> of interpretations of URIs, or indeed of any semantic issues.
>>> :-) - RFC2396 and friends and various social registration processes
>>> set up a social system by which URIs become bound to things.
>> Bound to, but not referring to. And not many kinds of thing.
> It is funny how instinctively we/I find myself avoiding the use of  
> some words in some places - I came close to saying "...come to  
> refer..." but, I also liked what I used to think of as more  
> significant difference between URIs and URIRefs: the former in as  
> sense being a things own sense of self identity (however obtained -  
> baptism or whatever) and the latter being a reference made *using* a  
> URI. Laterly, however they have simply been taken as expressing  
> different syntactic constraints. Anyway, "bound to" does go with the  
> former rather than the latter notion.
>>> But... I guess that comes down to what Jonathan called "reading
>>> between the lines".
>>> Many of the early URI scheme specifications describe that binding in
>>> very operationalised terms (the FTP URI scheme is as good example -
>>> see http://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc1738, section 3.2 and
>>> subsections). In the light of our other exchanges I think that FTP
>>> URI would be seen as designating a 'container' rather than its
>>> 'content'.
>> And I don't think it says much about how URIs can refer to people,
>> relationships, etc. etc.
> Yes... It says nothing about that - neither really does the HTTP  
> scheme spec embedded in 2616 which, IIRC, has as similar  
> operationalised description that speaks in terms of connecting to  
> ports on computers and the exchanges that ensue.
>> Pat
> Stuart
> -- 

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Received on Monday, 15 June 2009 20:14:55 UTC

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