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Re: homonym URIs (Re: What if an URI also is a URL)

From: Bernard Vatant <bernard.vatant@mondeca.com>
Date: Wed, 13 Jun 2007 10:08:05 +0200
Message-ID: <466FA5E5.9010106@mondeca.com>
To: Pat Hayes <phayes@ihmc.us>
Cc: Richard Cyganiak <richard@cyganiak.de>, Sandro Hawke <sandro@w3.org>, semantic-web@w3.org


The example I gave in my "synonym URIs" message yesterday seems to be a 
borderline case of punning : using the same URI for a 'city', like 
dbpedia does with http://dbpedia.org/resource/Berlin, where GeoNames 
would use two different URIs to denote a populated place (1) and an 
administrative subdivision (2).

One can read at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berlin, which is supposed 
to provide the basis for http://dbpedia.org/resource/Berlin meaning:
"Berlin is the capital </wiki/Capital> city and one of the sixteen 
states </wiki/States_of_Germany> of the Federal Republic of Germany 
</wiki/Germany>. It is the heart of the Berlin-Brandenburg 
</wiki/Brandenburg> metropolitan region, located in northeastern 
Germany. With a population of 3.4 million in its city limits, Berlin is 
the country's largest city, and the second most populous city 
in the European Union </wiki/European_Union>."

Is this harmful or useful punning? Seems OK where it is, in Wikipedia 
natural language description. Seems less OK when ported in URI land.
What do you think?


>> Pat,
>> On 12 Jun 2007, at 18:21, Pat Hayes wrote:
>>> I'd like to see some evidence that punning me and my email address 
>>> is ever going to cause an actual problem, for that matter. Now, 
>>> punning, say, me and my wife, or me and my eldest son, *is* likely 
>>> to cause a problem.
>> To pick up just one point: Where do you draw the line between harmful 
>> punning and efficiency-increasing punning? Any rules of thumb for 
>> when it is OK? Why is it OK to pun with email addresses, but not with 
>> wives?
> Because people and email addresses are so different that almost 
> nothing you ever want to say about or do to one is ever said about or 
> done to the other. If you email to PatHayes, you must have meant to 
> PatHayes' email address. If you assert that my email address has two 
> children, you must have meant me. With two people (or two mailboxes) 
> however, things are different. There really is no way to tell then 
> which is meant: you can't locally disambiguate the punning.
> Similar rules govern multiple word meanings in English. Its fine to 
> have 'rose' meaning both a flower and the past tense of the verb 
> meaning to go upwards, because these cannot be confused with one 
> another. Its not fine to have a word which is a pun between, say, 
> 'left' and 'right'.
> So the rule of thumb, which can be made operationally quite precise, 
> is that punning is OK if (there is a very high probability that) there 
> is enough contextual information available at the point of use to 
> figure out which of the various meanings is intended. In some cases 
> this can be made 100%. For example in Common Logic, a name can mean an 
> individual or a class or a relation or a function, 4-way punning: but 
> this is OK since the syntax of the language completely determines 
> which of the meanings is intended for each occurrence of the name. And 
> in fact allowing punning in this case makes the language much easier 
> to use and overcomes a host of awkward work-arounds that had to be 
> used before we realized that it was OK.
> Pat


*Bernard Vatant
*Knowledge Engineering
*3, citÚ Nollez 75018 Paris France
Web:    www.mondeca.com <http://www.mondeca.com>
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Mail:     bernard.vatant@mondeca.com <mailto:bernard.vatant@mondeca.com>
Blog:    Lešons de Choses <http://mondeca.wordpress.com/>
Received on Wednesday, 13 June 2007 08:08:30 UTC

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