W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > semantic-web@w3.org > July 2009

Re: Dons flame resistant (3 hours) interface about Linked Data URIs

From: Pat Hayes <phayes@ihmc.us>
Date: Fri, 10 Jul 2009 13:21:16 -0500
Cc: Ian Emmons <iemmons@bbn.com>, semantic-web@w3c.org
Message-Id: <1BF0B1E5-0979-49F9-BA63-55D190B8747B@ihmc.us>
To: Paul Gearon <gearon@ieee.org>

On Jul 10, 2009, at 11:07 AM, Paul Gearon wrote:

> On Fri, Jul 10, 2009 at 8:14 AM, Ian Emmons<iemmons@bbn.com> wrote:
>> On Jul 10, 2009, at 5:53 AM, Toby Inkster wrote:
>>>
>>> The URL of the file and the URL of the subject of discourse must  
>>> differ
>>> so that we can make unambiguous statements about each, and make
>>> statements about the relationship between the two.
>>
>> If one takes the preceding statement as fact and then watches the  
>> video
>> shared by Dan Brickley:
>>
>>     http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o4MwTvtyrUQ
>>
>> Then the only logical conclusion is that the SemWeb will never  
>> achieve
>> widespread use.  If average folks can't distinguish between their  
>> browser
>> and a search engine, how could we ever expect them to distinguish  
>> between
>> the URI of the file and the URI of the subject of discourse?  The  
>> answer is
>> that we can't.
>
> But you're talking about 2 different audiences. Anyone writing
> anything for the web (writing HTML, constructing URIs, building RDF)
> has a different understanding of browser-vs-searchengine than the
> average person on the street.
>
> Understanding the difference between URIs of a file and the URI of the
> subject of discourse is exactly the same concept portrayed in the
> painting "The Treachery of Images". That's the famous one of a pipe
> with the phrase "Ceci n'est pas une pipe" (This is not a pipe)[1].
> Most people understand that an image of a pipe is not a pipe, so why
> can't they understand that a webpage about a person is not a person?

They can. What I think most people have a hard time with is the idea  
that a URI can refer to a person directly, and this means exactly what  
it means for you or I using a name when talking in English. If one  
comes to the Web with the expectation that it is all about webpages  
and software, then it is natural to use your Web home page as a "stand- 
in" for you, the person, *because* websites are the kind of thing that  
are 'on' the Web, but people aren't. Its not that people don't realize  
there's no difference, its that they presume that it will be necessary  
to use some side-step trick like this in order to have a 'software'  
thing be the representative for a solid thing like a human being on  
the Web. Right now, most people, both techies and laypeople, start  
with that mind-set. The communication barrier we need to overcome is  
the realization that the Web really can be *semantic* in the fullest  
sense. The use of names in the semantic web is not like the use of  
identifiers in programming languages, or the use of URIs to access Web  
pages: it is more like the use of names in English or Urdu. A symptom  
of this failure to grok the full meaning of semantics is when people  
use scare quotes around words like 'denote', 'refer' or 'meaning';  
another symptom is to be puzzled about what possible use a  
URIreference could be that did not provide access to something.

Pat


>
>>  So either the SemWeb will have correct KR, logical, and
>> ontological underpinnings, or lots of people will publish data, but  
>> not
>> both.
>
> It'll never be perfect, but I think there'll be enough overlap to make
> things interesting and useful. Also, if raw data is useful enough,
> then people tend to write ontologies, transformations, and other tools
> to get it into a working space. Screen scrapers are a common example
> of this phenomenon.
>
> [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Treachery_of_Images
>
> Regards,
> Paul
>
>
>

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Received on Friday, 10 July 2009 18:22:26 UTC

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