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Re: Refers Or Denotes?

From: Henry Story <henry.story@bblfish.net>
Date: Tue, 12 Feb 2013 21:58:03 +0100
Cc: public-webid Group <public-webid@w3.org>, "public-philoweb@w3.org" <public-philoweb@w3.org>
Message-Id: <2BD515F2-4A01-4A70-B495-8293BCB2F995@bblfish.net>
To: "public-rdf-comments@w3.org" <public-rdf-comments@w3.org>
A question that came up on the WebID mailing list. We'd just like some clarification 
for the use of denotes, as the issue has come up there.

On 11 Feb 2013, at 21:37, Kingsley Idehen <kidehen@openlinksw.com> wrote:

> Henry / Andrei,
> 
> I current see [ in https://dvcs.w3.org/hg/WebID/raw-file/tip/spec/identity-respec.html ]
> "A WebID is an HTTP URI which *refers* to an Agent (Person, Organization, Group, Device, etc.)."
> 
> But in the context of RDF based Linked Data, the RDF workgroup (after serious thought on this matter) [1] has opted to use what would equate to:
> 
> A WebID is an HTTP URI which *denotes* an Agent (Person, Organization, Group, Device, etc.).
> 
> The more we stick to definitions and terminology being used across other W3C groups the easier things will be (on the appreciation and adoption front)  for WebID, over the long haul.

> 
> Links:
> 
> 1. http://www.w3.org/TR/2013/WD-rdf11-concepts-20130115/#resources-and-statements .
> 2. http://www.w3.org/TR/2013/WD-rdf11-concepts-20130115/ -- latest RDF 1.1 Concepts and Abstract Syntax edition .

I am not sure why "denotes" is being taken up by the RDF group nowadays, when most philosophy books and logic books tend to use the word "refer". Most engineers use the word refer too on a daily basis. 

In fact it is quite clear from the RDF concepts text that the two words are near synonymous, since what an IRI denotes is called its referent:

[[
Any IRI or literal denotes some thing in the universe of discourse. These things are called resources. Anything can be a resource, including physical things, documents, abstract concepts, numbers and strings; the term is synonymous with “entity”. The resource denoted by an IRI is called its referent, 
]]

I am ok with denotes. But we can also use referent according to that text. So I don't think this is a very settled matter - given furthermore that the above is not yet a final spec. 

I would like to know why this decision is being made though. Is that just an aesthetic statement, or is there more behind it?

Henry

> 
> -- 
> 
> Regards,
> 
> Kingsley Idehen	
> Founder & CEO
> OpenLink Software
> Company Web: http://www.openlinksw.com
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> 
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> 
> 
> 

Social Web Architect
http://bblfish.net/



Received on Tuesday, 12 February 2013 20:58:36 GMT

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