W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-semweb-lifesci@w3.org > August 2007

Artificial distinction between locators and identifiers

From: Booth, David (HP Software - Boston) <dbooth@hp.com>
Date: Wed, 8 Aug 2007 01:12:39 -0400
Message-ID: <EBBD956B8A9002479B0C9CE9FE14A6C2030296E5@tayexc19.americas.cpqcorp.net>
To: "Jonathan Rees" <jonathan.rees@gmail.com>, "Phillip Lord" <phillip.lord@newcastle.ac.uk>
Cc: "public-semweb-lifesci" <public-semweb-lifesci@w3.org>

[Subject was RE: IDs + 5; everybody - 10]

A belated comment, since this thread occurred while I was away on

> From: Jonathan Rees
> [ . . . ]
> My opinion is that if you want to avoid the locator suggestion
> entirely, go the route of handles and use names for authorities that
> don't look at all like domain names.

There is no such thing as a clear distinction between a locator and an
identifier.  Any identifier can be used as a locator and vice versa.
It's just a question of what software you have to use to make it act
like a locator.  With non-URI identifiers you have to paste the
identifier into a special piece of software from the outset, to locate
useful information about it.  Whereas with HTTP URIs, you *might* get
useful information if you paste the URI into a browser.  But if you
don't, you can still resort to pasting the URI into a special piece of

It is much better to educate people about the fact that an HTTP URI can
act both as a locator and an identifier than to assume that this
education will not occur and attempt to impose an artificial distinction
between them.

David Booth, Ph.D.
HP Software
+1 617 629 8881 office  |  dbooth@hp.com

Opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not represent
the official views of HP unless explicitly stated otherwise.
Received on Wednesday, 8 August 2007 05:12:58 UTC

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