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

Re: URI-meaning through collaboration

From: Jan Algermissen <jalgermissen@topicmapping.com>
Date: Tue, 23 Dec 2003 10:40:33 +0100
Message-ID: <3FE80D91.BE433C83@topicmapping.com>
To: "Peter F. Patel-Schneider" <pfps@research.bell-labs.com>
Cc: algermissen@acm.org, public-sw-meaning@w3.org

"Peter F. Patel-Schneider" wrote:
> 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?

Certainly not.

If you don't know the meaning of a word....do you ask an authority or do you
look it up in a dictionary?

[Since natural language dictionaries reflect the current common use of 
the words of a language, wouldn't it be nice to have URI-dictionary
services on the Web?]

> > 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.

Either way you gotta be careful which (RDF-)documents you trust
and which not. Or do you suggest to only use those issued and
controlled by the authority? What if an under-paid employer that
happens to be the Web master goes nuts and publishes millions of
of contradictory RDF statements?

So while this is definitely a semantic Web issue, it is not
limited to my suggestion.

> > 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.

Even better: it has responsibilities (if it cares for it's URIs)!

> > 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.

I heard you ;-)


> > 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

Jan Algermissen                           http://www.topicmapping.com
Consultant & Programmer	                  http://www.gooseworks.org
Received on Tuesday, 23 December 2003 04:47:22 UTC

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