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Identity and a thing

From: <runnegar@isoc.org>
Date: Mon, 25 Jul 2011 15:28:50 +0200 (CEST)
To: public-prov-wg@w3.org
Message-ID: <1311600530.865124636@apps.rackspace.com>

Hi all.
Unfortunately, due to technical issues, this email (originally dated 20 June 2011) was not posted to the list. It may have been superseded, but, in any case, here it is (with "Bob" changed to "Bill").
Dear colleagues,

I may be coming late to this discussion.

Further  to our teleconference on 16 June 2011, Luc asked me to post an email  explaining my concerns regarding the use of the word "identity" in the  definition of "thing" for the concept - Invariant View or Perspective of  Thing 

[http://www.w3.org/2011/prov/wiki/ConceptInvariantViewOnThing#Definition_by_Jim_and_Luc_v2_.28in_progress.29] http://www.w3.org/2011/prov/wiki/ConceptInvariantViewOnThing#Definition_by_Jim_and_Luc_v2_.28in_progress.29

I  was concerned that people outside the Provenance community may find the  use of the word "identity" in the definition of "thing" confusing.
The word "identity" is frequently used as shorthand for identity of an individual.

In  this context, a common definition of identity is "the complete set of  characteristics that define an individual". Some people use the word  "attributes" in place of "characteristics". A related term is  "identifier", which is sometimes termed "partial identity". Two examples  of an identifier are: an email address; and an account number.

In any case, perhaps what are trying to say is a thing is "identified as" rather than a thing "has these identifiers".

Let me illustrate this with some examples:

On  Monday, Alice's residential address is 100 Street Avenue. On Wednesday,  Alice's residential address changes to 200 Street Avenue. Alice has the  same identity, but different identifiers on Monday and on Wednesday.  She can be identified on Monday as Alice who lives at 100 Street Avenue,  and on Wednesday as Alice who lives at 200 Street Avenue. Further, as  it relates to Provenance, you may consider that on Wednesday Alice can  also be identified as "having lived at 100 Street Avenue on Tuesday".  None of this, of course, changes her identity, only how she is  identified.

On Monday, Company XYZ Pty Ltd is registered as  company number 001100. On Wednesday, company XYZ changes its name to ABC  Pty Ltd. The company is the same entity on Monday and Wednesday (i.e.  company 001100), but its name (one of its identifiers) has changed.

Alice posts a photo on her website at alice@alice.com.
alice@alice.com is hosted by Bill using dynamic IP addresses assigned by his ISP from time to time.
The photo can be identified as the photo posted on alice@alice.com.
The IP address where that photo can be accessed (one of its identifiers) may change from time to time.

Best regards,
Received on Monday, 25 July 2011 13:29:19 UTC

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