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RE: Resources and URIs

From: Larry Masinter <LMM@acm.org>
Date: Sun, 4 May 2003 09:03:21 -0700
To: <uri@w3.org>
Message-ID: <004f01c31256$afdf72d0$6ace8642@MASINTERPAD>

> Any revisions to RFC 2396, however, *must* account for and support
> these special needs of the SW.

I disagree. I think the claims made about
the needs of the "semantic web" are based on a false
presumption that URIs can be used to "denote" in ways
that they cannot.

URIs do not "denote".

The question

 "What does URI http://blahlah.example.org/blahblah denote?"

is, in general, unanswerable.

The act of "denoting" is something that a speaker of
a statement might do, using a URI, but the denotation
is not a property of the URI but of the speaker's use
of it.

URIs do (attempt to) "Identify". They do this by
making reference to some algorithm associated with
the scheme. "http" URIs identify something that you
use the HTTP protocol to talk to.

A speaker may use a URI in a context (e.g., an xmlns= in
some XML body) to denote something; if the context is
well-defined, the denotation of the URI might be

I think it's important that RFC 2396bis explicitly
disclaim any responsibility for denotation, since it
is so widely presumed.

Received on Sunday, 4 May 2003 12:03:45 UTC

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