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Re: Does the user care about URLs? (another thread from Re: Censorship?)

From: Mike Norton <xsideofparadise@yahoo.com>
Date: Tue, 9 Nov 2010 20:21:02 -0800 (PST)
Message-ID: <348171.45222.qm@web82402.mail.mud.yahoo.com>
To: rachel.flagg@gsa.gov, chris@e-beer.net.au
Cc: Gannon Dick <gannon_dick@yahoo.com>, W3C e-Gov IG <public-egov-ig@w3.org>, public-egov-ig-request@w3.org
Hi Rachel,

Interesting point, but I have to respectfully disagree.  If URL/URI structure is 
only important on the back-end, then why does it rest atop every end-user's 
browser on the front end?   It is a critically important device, even with the 
eloquent search features of Google and Bing.  I think the reason that its 
importance may be diminished to end-users (myself not included) is because most 
TLD's are generic (com, net, biz, edu, gov).  If I want specific information, I 
want my URI/URL to be specific.  That's why I think it's a good idea to have 
specific information (for example, records, statistics, or financials 
identifying a business' interaction with a government agency) starting at the 
top; in this case, the Top Level Domain.  I'm not worried about the idea that a 
business may try to influence a government agency, because that happens 
everyday.  What I am worried about is being able to clearly see that influence 
by way of a simplified URI/URL protocol.

Michael A. Norton

From: "rachel.flagg@gsa.gov" <rachel.flagg@gsa.gov>
To: chris@e-beer.net.au
Cc: Gannon Dick <gannon_dick@yahoo.com>; W3C e-Gov IG <public-egov-ig@w3.org>; 
public-egov-ig-request@w3.org; Mike Norton <xsideofparadise@yahoo.com>
Sent: Tue, November 9, 2010 2:34:27 PM
Subject: Does the user care about URLs? (another thread from Re: Censorship?)

Hi Chris - thanks for the thought-provoking questions below about "does the user 

URL/URI structure IS important on the back-end, to help us do a better job 
managing our information.  A good Info Architecture helps you organize, 
categorize & manage your information, but I don't think end users care about it 

They might care about the domain that comes up in search results -- to verify 
that the site they want to click on is "trusted" -- but as long as people can go 
to Google or Bing & find what they are looking for, I don't think they care 
about URI. 

On a related note, did you see that the US Govt has passed the Plain Writing Act 
of 2010, requiring US Federal Govt agencies touse “writing that is clear, 
concise, well-organized and follows best practices appropriate to the subject or 
field and intended audience” 

Read the text of the Act here: 

This will have implications (in the US) for helping people understand WHAT the 
data is about, and WHY they should care about it. 

So for everyone on this list who loves "data".....please remember that data 
cannot stand alone - "words" are also important, to put data into the proper 
context. :-) 

Rachel Flagg 
Co-Chair, Federal Web Managers Council 
Center for Customer Service Excellence 
Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies 
U.S. General Services Administration 
www.WebContent.gov -- Better websites. Better service. 

Chris Beer <chris@e-beer.net.au>  
Sent by: public-egov-ig-request@w3.org 
11/08/2010 01:29 PM 
Please respond to
 To Gannon Dick <gannon_dick@yahoo.com>  
cc Mike Norton <xsideofparadise@yahoo.com>, W3C e-Gov IG <public-egov-ig@w3.org>  

Subject Re: Censorship? 

1) Mike - your messages are indeed going to list. :)

2) Gannon - Lat/Long has gone the way of the nautical mile - GIS changes the 
game and is far more accurate anyway - just pop your state name and coordinates 
in a controlled vocabulary or thesarus and away you go. GIS also moves beyond 
tieing physical borders to dry land as it is absolute positioning. (The classic 
example of use being a river as a border between two states. The two states have 
an agreement that one bank is the actual border (i.e - one state actually owns 
the river) - so what happens when the river floods? Does one state get larger 
and the other smaller?)

While the idea of creating the perfect system is indeed nice and interesting to 
discuss theoretically, it isn't realistic - there is just too much time and 
investment in the current model by states and business (and standards groups) to 
consider changing things. It doesn't matter whether US Government Data makes 
more semantic sense expressed as us.gov.data than data.gov - it won't change 
anytime soon. (That's not to say someone won't build a User Agent with some sort 
of in built semantic URI parser - which is a far more likely realisation of your 
suggestion Mike, and one I wouldn't mind seeing :) )

I think that Mikes' proposal raises a few interesting points that are well worth 
discussion by any modern e-government. Namely : In the world of today's 
internet, and the future semantic web, what does a URI look like? Or rather, 
what does your e-governments' online information architecture look like? Is 
there as consistent standard structure to your URI's that assist citizens in 
finding information quickly and semantically? And is there any actual benefit to 

If I type "Data USA" into my browser address bar (which you can in the latest 
ones and it will work), does it matter if the result returned is data.gov, or if 
it is public.statistics.omb.gov/datasets (fake URI - example only)? Or is all 
that matters that the browser points you to Does the user 

Would be curious to hear the opinions of list members as a sideline to the 
regular and less theoreticaly LOD work the group is doing, just because 
discussion is good.



On 11/9/2010 7:44 AM, Gannon Dick wrote:  
I think there is an easier way ...

Governments (maybe not in the US, at the moment, with the perverted definition 
of Capitalism in use)  can move forward, if there is a firm scientific basis, 
with or without Business.

Do you know what an RDF List looks like ?  There is a "first" member, then a 
"rest" member, then a "nil" member. The model for Countries looks like this:
 <rdf:first>High Seas</rdf:first>
 <rdf:rest> Australia etc.... </rdf:rest>
 <rdf:rest><rdf:nil /></rdf:rest>

This is the "Politics of RDF".  Only Governments (or a Nominet) can hold Top 
Level Domains representing land, and the "whole world" is covered.  There is 
nothing wrong with thinking that the space between your ears has freedom, but 
your head is in some jurisdiction at all times.  The Ocean is not "covered" 
because nobody lives there.  The Latitude/Longitude Model is incompatible with 
the RDF model because of 6 compass points (incl. up and down) only one is dry 
land- Antarctica.  There is only one set of [wet], [dry],[dry],[dry] ... 
(although there are many possible orderings).

Chris, what do you think ? 

--- On Mon, 11/8/10, Mike Norton <xsideofparadise@yahoo.com>wrote: 

From: Mike Norton <xsideofparadise@yahoo.com>
Subject: Re: Censorship?
To: "Gannon Dick" <gannon_dick@yahoo.com>
Date: Monday, November 8, 2010, 1:48 PM
Dystopia, yikes!  (I had to look that one up.:)   I think you are right about 
the reality, that sustaining ignorant customers is a whole benefit for the 
powers that be.  But am I at a loss to think that such an online format would 
bring much more integrity to the process of both governance and business?  I 
would think that the "good" businesses and 'governors' would be wholly open to 
the idea....
Michael A. Norton 

From: Gannon Dick <gannon_dick@yahoo.com>
To: Mike Norton <xsideofparadise@yahoo.com>
Sent: Mon, November 8, 2010 11:18:02 AM
Subject: Re: Censorship?

I don't know, Mike.

I think Sandro is out of the country.  But that shouldn't make a difference.

That said, I do believe you need to re-think this whole concept.  You are 
proposing exact syntax for a web content provider that does not exist.  Neither 
the Government (because they would be accused of Big Brotherism) nor Industry 
will go along.  The reality is that ignorant customers (without sufficient 
information) account for a lot of profits.  This is only because money is 
fungible and NOTHING else in Nature is.  You can fool a human into buying 
"food", but the nutritional value does not depend on what money you paid, it 
depends on the nutritional value the "food" already had.  I like to think out of 
the box too, but in this case you are envisioning a dystopia, not a utopia. 

--- On Mon, 11/8/10, Mike Norton <xsideofparadise@yahoo.com>wrote: 

From: Mike Norton <xsideofparadise@yahoo.com>
Subject: Censorship?
To: gannon_dick@yahoo.com
Date: Monday, November 8, 2010, 12:24 PM
Hi Gannon, 
I sent this twice to the eGov IG list, and both times it didn't go through.  Why 
do you think it failed to be delivered?
Michael A. Norton 

----- Forwarded Message ----
From: Mike Norton <xsideofparadise@yahoo.com>
To: Submit to W3C Egov IG <public-egov-ig@w3.org>
Sent: Mon, November 8, 2010 9:27:49 AM
Subject: Streamlining public data - 3 options
Hello all, 

As a way to streamline business data repositories that are publicly available 
into federally specified schemes, please follow [1] and hit me a reply with 
which scenario you think would do the most sufficient job.  Of course, if you 
have a better one, by all means let me know.   Thanks! 

[1] http://www.rustprivacy.org/norton/pub.xml 

Michael A. Norton 



Chris BeerInvited Expert (Public Member) W3 eGovernment Interest Group & W3-WAI 
WCAG Working Group Coordinator - Better Practices in using Technology to 
Delivery Government Services Online - eGovernment IG Task Force EM: 
chris@e-beer.net.auTW: @zBeerLI: http://au.linkedin.com/in/zbeer 

Received on Wednesday, 10 November 2010 04:21:38 UTC

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