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Re: Owning URIs (Was: Yet Another LOD cloud browser)

From: Kingsley Idehen <kidehen@openlinksw.com>
Date: Mon, 18 May 2009 14:02:00 -0400
Message-ID: <4A11A298.1040908@openlinksw.com>
To: David Huynh <dfhuynh@alum.mit.edu>
CC: Linked Data community <public-lod@w3.org>, semantic-web@w3.org
David Huynh wrote:
> Tim,
>
> Tim Berners-Lee wrote:
>> On 2009-05 -18, at 07:20, David Huynh wrote:
>>> Sherman Monroe wrote:
>>> [...] For example, when I search for Microsoft on Google, the first 
>>> result not only IS what I want, but also LOOKs like what I want. I 
>>> can make the decision to click on it within maybe 1 or 2 seconds. 
>>> The URL "www.microsoft.com <http://www.microsoft.com>" in that 
>>> search result is perhaps the most convincing element, as I know only 
>>> *the* Microsoft can possibly own that domain. (This will be a 
>>> challenge for any SW search engine, because no-one can own any URI, 
>>> and so, seeing a URI alone means pretty much nothing. That's one of 
>>> the main differences between URL and URI, which is usually swept 
>>> under the rug.) 
>> I had to pick up in "no-one can own any URI".
>>
>> First of all, terms:  URL is not really a term in the architecture of 
>> the WWW.  I find it best to use "URI".  "URL" does occur in the 
>> browser UI, but in the specs it has been used for various things, 
>> often a derogatory term for a URI which might change. How are you 
>> using it here? To mean the URI of a web page? To mean an " http:" 
>>  URI?  If not, then why are you dealing with URIs which are not HTTP 
>> URIs (tch, tch! :-)?  If so, then why don't you think these HTTP URIs 
>> in the semantic web are owned?
> Isn't it ironic that we're quibbling on the meaning of URL? :-) I used 
> it to mean what web users see 99% of the time in their browser's 
> address bar; what they have intuitively come to understand as a URL; 
> what they see and hear in ads, on the news, etc. to be the address of 
> some site; what their friends tell them to type into the address bar; 
> etc. That is, the "social definition" of URL, not the academic one.
There is a degree of irony re. what a URL actually is.

One solution is to use today's understanding of a URL (albeit an 
inaccurate one) as the basis for unraveling what Linked Data is about: 
The Web done right, because the Web was actually supposed to be about 
Linked URIs and not Linked URLs :-)

So we have the old abstraction as the new thing, if that works then fine. 
A URL identifies an address.
An address is a Thing.
URIs identify things.
A URL is a URI.
A URI embodies a URL.

You can choose to use an "Address" for the Name a Thing, but just note 
that when you seek physical manifestation of the description of a Thing 
using a Location Constrained Name, you introduce at least one problem 
when the Thing is inherently mobile (be it a Real World Object or Web 
Document). Same applies to documents with multiple versions etc.

>
>> Why can't the semantic web track 'whois' information of domain 
>> ownership, and maybe even SLL certificate information, of sites and 
>> be aware of the social relationships, and use them intelligently? 
>> (perhaps more safely than a human who will be confused by 
>> http://www.microsoft.com.1000ripyouoff.crime/ ?) .  It is true that 
>> the delegation of information within a site is not typically made 
>> explicit (though it could be with site metadata).  But there is in 
>> general a system of ownership of URIs, it seems to me, and it is 
>> important on the SW in the social processes by which different groups 
>> get to define what different terms mean. So "no-one can own any URI" 
>> set off a red flag for me.
> I intended it to set off a red flag :-) This is because I would like 
> this issue to be discussed and researched a bit more; I would like 
> media studies to be done on the SW as a new medium; I would like to 
> understand what social processes are necessary to make SW technologies 
> congruent with how people deal with information and with one another 
> through information; etc.
You need to scope this to the Linked Data aspect of the Semantic Web 
project since that's the aspect that mandates de-referencable 
identifiers (e.g. HTTP based URIs).
>
> To be more specific, these days a news reporter can say "foobar.com" 
> on TV and expect that to mean something to most of the audience. 
> That's a marvel. Something more than just the string "foobar.com" is 
> transfered. It's the expectation that if anyone in the audience were 
> to type "foobar.com" into any web browser, then they would be seeing 
> information served by the authority associated with some topic or 
> entity called "foobar" as socially defined. And 99% of the audience 
> would be seeing the same information. What's the equivalent or 
> analogous of that on the SW?
Re. the Linked Data Web you have an abstraction that is devoid of data 
location, representation, and access mechanism constraints.  Thus, using 
the TV annecdote, when they say: foobar.com  I can go to  my Web 
enabled  device and use <foobar.com> as a structured data source name 
i.e. something I can query.
As more Web enabled tools understand that <foobar.com> is a URI for 
something, the more they will get out of the Web in the form of value 
returned to users. Ironically, I actually believe that most people 
assume this is what <foobar.com> delivered during the early days of the 
Web, prior to the "Web of Linked URLs" brigade inadvertently lead most 
down  the wrong path due to document fixation.

The Linked Data meme (imho) is an unobtrusive fix of the scenario I 
describe above. Most people understand (albeit not in URI syntax) the 
distinction between the Name of a Thing and the Thing itself, if they 
didn't I would even be sending this email :-)

>
> I believe--without proof and without any expertise in media and social 
> studies, unfortunately--that for a technology or medium at the scale 
> of the SW to be integrated into human society, it has to involve 
> money, power, control, ownership, social hierarchies, social 
> conventions, etc., all the stuff that are human. It has to get 
> "dirty". Right now, it seems just too clean to be human.
I thought I explained the dirty aspect above. We have a mess i.e., the 
perception that a "Web of Linked URLs" actually exists when it is infact 
it's a "Web of Linked URIs" :-) The clean part is the Linked Data meme 
fix (imho) .


Kingsley
>
> Thanks,
>
> David
>
>
>


-- 


Regards,

Kingsley Idehen	      Weblog: http://www.openlinksw.com/blog/~kidehen
President & CEO 
OpenLink Software     Web: http://www.openlinksw.com
Received on Monday, 18 May 2009 18:02:38 GMT

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