W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > w3c-rdfcore-wg@w3.org > June 2001

Re: #rdfms-difference-between-ID-and-about (every document is in the Web)

From: pat hayes <phayes@ai.uwf.edu>
Date: Sat, 23 Jun 2001 23:24:44 -0500
Message-Id: <v04210104b759d545ca78@[205.160.76.176]>
To: Aaron Swartz <me@aaronsw.com>
Cc: w3c-rdfcore-wg@w3.org
>On Wednesday, June 20, 2001, at 06:13  PM, pat hayes wrote:
>
>>> > The fact that something can have a URI (and anything can, right?) doesn't
>>> > mean that it's got one.
>>>
>>>Suppose I say that it does. There's no argument to
>>>refute me, is there?
>>Well, I can refute you to my own satisfaction just by looking 
>>around my office at the books on the shelves.
>
>Really? Looking at all the books on my shelves I notice that they 
>all have URIs. In fact, most of them are kind enough to print it on 
>the back of the book -- why here's one now:
>
>	urn:isbn:059600110X

Obviously you are not a bibliophile. What is the URI for my copy of 
'Plays Pleasant' by George Bernard Shaw, published by Penguin in 
1951, price 1 shilling? For the 1815 5th edition of Encyclopedia 
Brittannica (one volume missing), or the mid-19th century collections 
of political oratory, or the single precious page from the Nurenberg 
Chronicles? How about the URI for the hand-written diaries and 
notebooks, and the files of typed correspondence? How about the URIs 
of the stuff written in those diaries and letters?

Maybe you live in a vision of a future world where all this, and 
everything else, will be scanned into a kind of global matrix. I 
guess the best thing I can say to that is, over my dead body. And for 
once, I'm not joking.

>Oh, you mean my copy? Why it's at:
>
>	http://aaronsw.com/books/id?urn:isbn:059600110X
>
>>Whereas I *know* that some email messsages don't have a URI.
>
>No you don't. You can't show me anything that doesn't have a URI.

I can't show you them by email, since the act of emailing them gives 
them a URI. But all of human life is not conducted on email. But I 
will undertake to tell you about three things that do not have a URI.
1. Next time it rains in your vicinity, go to where you can put your 
hand into the rain, and do so. The first thing is the first raindrop 
that hits your skin.
2. Choose a musical group or composer. The next time you hear any 
music by that group or composer (and are conscious of it), the second 
thing is the physical object that is most nearly exactly one mile due 
north of you at that moment.
3. The third thing is my cat.

Those are all easy, of course. If we want to get technical, I can 
talk about stars in other galaxies that cannot be seen, or quarks, or 
electrons. Most human beings on the planet do not have a URI. Every 
mole of crap in the universe has Avogadro's number of things in it 
that do not have URIs.

It is ridiculous to say that everything can be named, let alone that 
everything has a URI. I see things that have never been named every 
minute of every day. Sometimes I  draw them (and the drawings don't 
have URIs either, by the way.).

>>>Alas, it's true that a lot of folks think of the Web
>>>as HTTP+HTML. They speak of "the Web or email or ftp"
>>>when they should say "HTTP or email or ftp, all of which
>>>are part of the Web." The telephone system is also
>>>part of The Web, as is IRC etc.
>>The web uses the phone system, but it does not include it. I do 
>>actually speak on the phone from time to time.
>
>And thus you're speaking over the Web, no?

No. I was talking on the phone before the web existed. If the web 
ceased to exist, I would still be talking on the phone. Look, Tim B-L 
deserves a lot of credit, but he isnt Alexander Graham Bell.

>The Web is the set of things that have a URI. Your telephone has 
>one, see the tel: scheme.

That is irrelevant. You seem to be confusing there being a reference 
to my telephone on the web, with my telephone itself being on the web.

Look at what you have said. If the web is everything that has a URI, 
and if everything has a URI, then the Web is everything and 
everything is the Web, right?. (I am wondering if you are actually 
going to assent to this. Maybe you will; if so, there is little point 
in continuing this ridiculous conversation. )

>>>But meanwhile, the 10 year history of the Web
>>>is evidence that this axiom is useful; can we agree that
>>>for the purposes of the RDF spec, every document is in the Web?
>>No, we cannot. I refuse to accept as an axiom something that I know 
>>to be false and, moreover, I know to be false because I can make it 
>>false in a few seconds by writing something with a pen on a piece 
>>of paper.
>
How can you show that it is false?

The claim was that every document is on the web. I can make that 
false by writing something on a piece of paper, thereby creating a 
document, and doing nothing else, thereby ensuring that it is not on 
the web. (In fact, I do this every morning as a kind of cleansing 
ritual, before reading through the rdf-core email.)

>You simply cannot show me something that does not have a URI.

If you and I were in the same place I could do so immediately, eg by 
pointing at the nearest piece of dirt on the sidewalk. It is, I will 
concede, rather trickier to do this by email.

Pat Hayes

---------------------------------------------------------------------
IHMC					(850)434 8903   home
40 South Alcaniz St.			(850)202 4416   office
Pensacola,  FL 32501			(850)202 4440   fax
phayes@ai.uwf.edu 
http://www.coginst.uwf.edu/~phayes
Received on Monday, 25 June 2001 10:43:40 EDT

This archive was generated by hypermail pre-2.1.9 : Wednesday, 3 September 2003 09:37:16 EDT