W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-sweo-ig@w3.org > January 2008

Re: HTTP URIs for real world objects

From: Martin Hepp (UIBK) <martin.hepp@uibk.ac.at>
Date: Thu, 17 Jan 2008 09:49:46 +0100
Message-ID: <478F16AA.1030504@uibk.ac.at>
To: Peter Ansell <ansell.peter@gmail.com>
CC: Peter F Brown <peter@pensive.eu>, Bernard Vatant <bernard.vatant@mondeca.com>, Danny Ayers <danny.ayers@gmail.com>, Reto Bachmann-Gmür <reto@gmuer.ch>, Leo Sauermann <leo.sauermann@dfki.de>, public-sweo-ig@w3.org, semantic-web@w3.org, Paul Roe <p.roe@qut.edu.au>, James Michael Hogan <j.hogan@qut.edu.au>

Peter Ansell wrote:
> The world doesn't work by figuring out exactly what everything means
> and then keeping definitions intact after that. Imagining the semantic
> web to agree with a contract where different identities have to be
> bit-perfect in order to recognise anything about them seems to be
> missing reality.
Peter (A.), you are so damn right!

Let's look at how human language reaches and maintains consensus between 
symbols (terms) and meaning: Simply by many people using the same term 
for the same thing. And quite clearly, the evolution of the vocabulary 
must be under the control of the users of the vocabulary, so that they 
can renew or update their ontological commitment, and extend the 
vocabulary on the spot. In natural languages, anybody can introduce new 
terms when needed, and often consensual usage of the new term 
establishes quickly. I am confident that the Semantic Web will only work 
at large if  the control over the domain vocabularies is in the hands of 
the users and tightly coupled with their usage for annotation or 
querying - no "dead", officially standardized terminology. The latter is 
bound to fail, because it will be too slow for quickly evolving domains 
(who want to wait for ISO to standardize the term "folksonomy" or 
"iPhone"?) and because centralized agencies will not be able to foresee 
all needs for conceptual elements in the domain (see [1] and [2]].

It's the massive, consensual usage that yields authoritative symbols for 


PS: These and additional aspects are discussed in my "Possible 
Ontologies" paper, available at 

[1] F.A. Hayek, F. A.: "The Use of Knowledge in Society", American 
Economic Review, XXXV, No. 4; September, 1945, pp. 519-30.

[2] Leonard E. Read: "I, Pencil. My Family Tree as told to Leonard E. 
Read", Dec. 1958

martin hepp, http://www.heppnetz.de
Received on Thursday, 17 January 2008 08:50:33 UTC

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