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Re: When does a document acquire (web) semantics?

From: Danny Ayers <danny.ayers@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 1 Feb 2010 22:04:15 +0100
Message-ID: <1f2ed5cd1002011304n7930858bg1f4d68ff22fcd3f7@mail.gmail.com>
To: John Madden <john.madden@duke.edu>
Cc: w3c semweb HCLS <public-semweb-lifesci@w3.org>, "Eric Prud'hommeaux" <eric@w3.org>
On 1 February 2010 19:30, John Madden <john.madden@duke.edu> wrote:
> We had an interesting call in TERM today. One of the topics I would like to boil down to the question "When does a document acquire its semantics?" or, "when does a document come to mean something?"
>
> I argued the (admittedly intentionally) radical view that documents have no semantics whatsoever until a reader performs an act of interpretation upon the document, which in the Semantic Web world would be the same as attributing an RDF/OWL graph to the document.

Not that I disagree with any of the points you detailed, but I would
claim the opposite - that by publishing a document on the Web (and
hence giving it a URI) you are ascribing it semantics, even if only in
the sense of giving it a denotation.

It's a good point to raise, personally I prefer a very bottom-up
approach, that your typical Web document will include links, be part
of the graph and de facto have some kind of semantics.

If you take the idea of "reader" and generalise it to "agent", that
might well be something like a search engine crawler, which not only
notices the URI but also pulls out keywords. I don't wish to suggest
that such stuff is particularly useful meaning, quite the opposite -
the more you can say about something the better.

If a tree falls in the woods and there's nobody around to hear it,
that's one thing. If that tree has a URI that's a different matter
entirely. It gives you something to build on.

Cheers,
Danny.


-- 
http://danny.ayers.name
Received on Monday, 1 February 2010 21:04:52 GMT

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