W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-semweb-lifesci@w3.org > August 2006

Re: Size estimates of current LS space (and Introductions)

From: Matthew Cockerill <matt@biomedcentral.com>
Date: Sun, 13 Aug 2006 15:57:29 +0100
Message-Id: <8DA0F7CB-C094-4C6D-AD5B-2D0DBA7DA586@biomedcentral.com>
Cc: "Nigam Shah" <nigam@stanford.edu>, "June Kinoshita" <junekino@media.mit.edu>, "Joanne Luciano" <jluciano@predmed.com>, "Jeremy Zucker" <zucker@research.dfci.harvard.edu>, "Skinner, Karen ((NIH/NIDA)) [E]" <kskinner@nida.nih.gov>, "Eric Neumann" <eneumann@teranode.com>, "public-semweb-lifesci hcls" <public-semweb-lifesci@w3.org>
To: "Booth, David (HP Software - Boston)" <dbooth@hp.com>

On 11 Aug 2006, at 21:46, Booth, David (HP Software - Boston) wrote:

> (For example, one probably would not use
> a wikipedia URL as a concept identifier in a Semantic Web application,
> because the definition of a term can change as fast as a user can type
> in a browser.)

Actually, I think wikipedia URLs have huge practical strengths as  
semantic identifiers (for one thing, they are incredibly easy to look  
up via Google), and my sense is that they will, de facto, play a  
significant role in many semantic web applications.

The fact that the text of the definition of the terms is editable is  
not an obstacle to URI acquiring stable meaning, since usage (i.e. in  
this case references to the URI) is what really drives meaning.  
Definitions are secondary to usage, when it comes to meaning -  when  
the two conflict, it tends to be the definitions which change to  
reflect usage.

Wikipedia URIs are widely used, and this serves (by context) to  
define what they refer to, and to stabilize that meaning - without  
preventing it from evolving gradually over time.

A widely used wikipedia URI, such as, say:
has a pretty stable meaning.
Yes, someone could edit it at any time to replace it (temporarily)  
with a big picture of a cat, but this doesn't actually threaten the  
meaning of the URI, anymore than someone hacking into the OED website  
and changing the definition of the word 'dog' in the dictionary would  
be disastrous for the English language. In both cases, the meaning is  
stabilized by usage, and it would recover...


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Received on Sunday, 13 August 2006 14:57:56 UTC

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