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Re: Owning URIs (Was: Yet Another LOD cloud browser)

From: David Huynh <dfhuynh@alum.mit.edu>
Date: Mon, 18 May 2009 09:35:30 -0700
Message-ID: <4A118E52.8090205@alum.mit.edu>
To: Tim Berners-Lee <timbl@w3.org>
CC: Linked Data community <public-lod@w3.org>, semantic-web@w3.org
Tim,

Tim Berners-Lee wrote:
> On 2009-05 -18, at 07:20, David Huynh wrote:
>> Sherman Monroe wrote:
>> [...] For example, when I search for Microsoft on Google, the first 
>> result not only IS what I want, but also LOOKs like what I want. I 
>> can make the decision to click on it within maybe 1 or 2 seconds. The 
>> URL "www.microsoft.com <http://www.microsoft.com>" in that search 
>> result is perhaps the most convincing element, as I know only *the* 
>> Microsoft can possibly own that domain. (This will be a challenge for 
>> any SW search engine, because no-one can own any URI, and so, seeing 
>> a URI alone means pretty much nothing. That's one of the main 
>> differences between URL and URI, which is usually swept under the rug.) 
> I had to pick up in "no-one can own any URI".
>
> First of all, terms:  URL is not really a term in the architecture of 
> the WWW.  I find it best to use "URI".  "URL" does occur in the 
> browser UI, but in the specs it has been used for various things, 
> often a derogatory term for a URI which might change. How are you 
> using it here? To mean the URI of a web page? To mean an " http:" 
>  URI?  If not, then why are you dealing with URIs which are not HTTP 
> URIs (tch, tch! :-)?  If so, then why don't you think these HTTP URIs 
> in the semantic web are owned?
Isn't it ironic that we're quibbling on the meaning of URL? :-) I used 
it to mean what web users see 99% of the time in their browser's address 
bar; what they have intuitively come to understand as a URL; what they 
see and hear in ads, on the news, etc. to be the address of some site; 
what their friends tell them to type into the address bar; etc. That is, 
the "social definition" of URL, not the academic one.

> Why can't the semantic web track 'whois' information of domain 
> ownership, and maybe even SLL certificate information, of sites and be 
> aware of the social relationships, and use them intelligently? 
> (perhaps more safely than a human who will be confused by 
> http://www.microsoft.com.1000ripyouoff.crime/ ?) .  It is true that 
> the delegation of information within a site is not typically made 
> explicit (though it could be with site metadata).  But there is in 
> general a system of ownership of URIs, it seems to me, and it is 
> important on the SW in the social processes by which different groups 
> get to define what different terms mean. So "no-one can own any URI" 
> set off a red flag for me.
I intended it to set off a red flag :-) This is because I would like 
this issue to be discussed and researched a bit more; I would like media 
studies to be done on the SW as a new medium; I would like to understand 
what social processes are necessary to make SW technologies congruent 
with how people deal with information and with one another through 
information; etc.

To be more specific, these days a news reporter can say "foobar.com" on 
TV and expect that to mean something to most of the audience. That's a 
marvel. Something more than just the string "foobar.com" is transfered. 
It's the expectation that if anyone in the audience were to type 
"foobar.com" into any web browser, then they would be seeing information 
served by the authority associated with some topic or entity called 
"foobar" as socially defined. And 99% of the audience would be seeing 
the same information. What's the equivalent or analogous of that on the SW?

I believe--without proof and without any expertise in media and social 
studies, unfortunately--that for a technology or medium at the scale of 
the SW to be integrated into human society, it has to involve money, 
power, control, ownership, social hierarchies, social conventions, etc., 
all the stuff that are human. It has to get "dirty". Right now, it seems 
just too clean to be human.

Thanks,

David
Received on Monday, 18 May 2009 16:36:43 UTC

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