W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-sw-meaning@w3.org > December 2003

Re: URI-meaning through collaboration

From: Peter F. Patel-Schneider <pfps@research.bell-labs.com>
Date: Mon, 22 Dec 2003 22:09:44 -0500 (EST)
Message-Id: <20031222.220944.08253222.pfps@research.bell-labs.com>
To: algermissen@acm.org
Cc: public-sw-meaning@w3.org

From: Jan Algermissen <jalgermissen@topicmapping.com>
Subject: URI-meaning through collaboration
Date: Mon, 22 Dec 2003 22:04:16 +0100

> Hi,
> I think I finally understood the "meaning of URI" issue. I
> am very curious what people think of the following:
> "The meaning[1] of a URI is the sum of the semantics of all
>  uses of that URI".

I don't think that this is particularly useful.  What happens if a URI is
used in contradictory fashion?  Does this make *the* meaning of the URI be
a contradiction?

> The main idea here is collaboration. Each use of a URI contributes
> to it's meaning and the (current) meaning is the sum of all 
> such contributions (known to date).

Well, this would certainly lead to a nice denial of service attack on the
Semantic Web.  Just use lots of URIs in unusual ways, thus polluting *the*
meaning of these URIs.

> This creates a picture of the meaning of a URI being in constant
> flow, but gaining stability through increased (similar) usage. If
> a URI does not reach a critical point of stability...well, then it
> propably wasn't good enough in the first place.

Hmm.  Perhaps a different metric would be useful.  If a URI does not reach
contradictory status then it probably wasn't good enough in the first place.

> This puts the naming authority in a position of responsibility
> to care for a young and fragile URI, slowly raising it to be
> strong (semantically stable) as opposed to 'dictating it's
> semantics up front). 

One nice aspect of this theory of meaning is that the naming authority has
no special powers.

> After all, who can 'define' the meaning of a name if not the
> community that uses the name?
> How does that sound?

Not so useful.

> Jan
> [1] For readability I use "meaning of a URI" instead of "semantics
> of the resource a URI addresses"

Peter F. Patel-Schneider
Bell Labs Research
Received on Monday, 22 December 2003 22:09:59 UTC

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