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Comments on http://www.w3.org/TR/2007/WD-cooluris-20071217/

From: Andy Powell <andy.powell@eduserv.org.uk>
Date: Fri, 21 Dec 2007 17:37:50 -0000
Message-ID: <5639156310BCBA459673B0D709D28C0FC7CC34@eduwbl01.edu2000.com>
To: <public-sweo-ig@w3.org>

This document looks pretty good and I agree with the general thrust of
what it is trying to do.  However, I think there are problems with its
use of terminology.  Some comments follow...

Abstract

I wonder if the abstract could be improved a little.  For example, the
first sentence doesn't capture the fact that RDF can be used to describe
resources that are digital, physical or conceptual.  The paragraph also
underplays the fundamental importance of URIs.  How about

The Resource Description Framework RDF allows the users to describe
digital resources (e.g. Web documents), physical resources (e.g. people
and things) and conceptual resources (e.g. colors and topics) in a
computer-processable way. Publishing such descriptions on the Web
creates the Semantic Web. URIs (Uniform Resource Identifiers) are very
important, providing both the core of the framework itself and the link
between RDF descriptions and the Web. This document presents guidelines
for their effective use. It discusses two strategies, called 303 URIs
and hash URIs. It gives pointers to several Web sites that use these
solutions, and briefly discusses why several other proposals have
problems.

1. Introduction

Editorial note: "website" should be "Web site"?

2. URIs for Web Documents

This section appears to introduce 'Web document' as a symonym for
'information resource'?  I prefer this in some ways.  However, I presume
that the use of 'Web document' was rejected by previous W3C WG
discussion?  Why re-introduce it here?

I have no idea what the 'traditional Web' is!? :-)  I am aware of people
using http URIs to identify non-information resources (e.g. the DCMI
uses http URIs to identify its conceptual metadata terms) for well over
5 years - probably nearer 10 years.

In the final sentence of this section, the tense moves from past to
present.

2.1 HTTP and Content Negotiation

Somewhere in this paragraph there is a change from using
'representation' to using 'version'.  This is potentially confusing.  I
think that 'representation' should be used throughout.

3. URIs for Real-World Objects

I think this section needs to be clearer about when it is making
statements that are true for all time and when it is making statements
of current best practice.  For example, is the statement "The standard
Web transfer protocol, HTTP, should be used." true for all time or an
indication of current best practice?  It seems to me that the
requirement around ambiguity will still apply in 100 years time (say)
whereas the requirement around use of HTTP may well not.

Under '2. Don't be ambiguous' the text uses both 'document' and
'Web-retrievable document' for what has previously been referred to as a
'Web document'.  This mix of terminology is confusing.

The figure at the end of this section is also potentially confusing.
Firstly it uses both 'URI' and 'URL' without explaining why - I'd prefer
to see URI used throughout, i.e. "Resource URI", "RDF Document URI" and
"HTML Document URI".  Secondly, the language around this figure has
moved from 'version' to 'description'.  An HTML document is not
necessarily a 'description' of a non-information resource - it is a
'representation' of it.  Again, 'representation' should be used
throughout this section.

3.1 Distinguishing ...

It seems to me that introducing 'web documents' and 'real-world,
non-document objects' as new terminology is ultimately more confusing
than simply using 'information resources' and 'non-information
resources'.  The latter aren't perfect (far from it!), but the
introduction of the new terms doesn't seem to help, especially since the
new terms subsequently get used inconsistently - sometimes 'real world'
is used, sometimes ' non-document' is used, etc.

Again, the words 'describes' and 'describing' are used in this section
where 'represents' and 'representing' would be better.

4.4 Cool URIs

It feels slightly odd that 'Cool URIs' is used in the title of this
working draft, but the section explicitly on this topic is quite small
and buried.  It feels to me a bit like the main title of the working
draft is wrong - perhaps "The effective use of URIs for the Semantic
Web" would be better?

---

Summary: Overall, I think this draft suffers from inconsistent use of
terminology throughout, particularly in the area of what it means to be
'on the Web', a 'Web document', an 'information resource', a
'non-information resource', in the 'real world', and so on.  Agreed
terms used need to be used consistently throughout and, preferably
defined separately in a glossary.

Hope this helps,

Andy
--
Head of Development, Eduserv Foundation
http://www.eduserv.org.uk/foundation/
http://efoundations.typepad.com/
andy.powell@eduserv.org.uk
+44 (0)1225 474319
Received on Saturday, 22 December 2007 17:49:49 GMT

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