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Re: #rdfms-difference-between-ID-and-about

From: pat hayes <phayes@ai.uwf.edu>
Date: Mon, 25 Jun 2001 12:20:32 -0500
Message-Id: <v04210108b75d17c4215f@[]>
To: Aaron Swartz <me@aaronsw.com>
Cc: www-archive@w3.org
>(Taken to www-archive so as not to clutter the list with philosophy.)

Fair enough, though y'all need to acknowledge that claims about any 
kind of naming convention being 'universal' , or anything about 'all 
documents',  IS philosophy. If you don't want to start a 
philosophical argument, don't make philosophical claims (especially 
highly contentious ones) in front of philosophers.

>On Saturday, June 23, 2001, at 11:22  PM, pat hayes wrote:
>>>>>-- have you ever opened up an HTML page in your browser without a URL?
>>>>Actually yes, I do it all the time with pages I have saved as 
>>>>files and given private file names to.
>>>Exactly, and those file names created a URL for the document!
>>No, they did not conform to the W3C rules for URLs,
>They don't? I don't know of any "W3C rules" for URLs, but they are 
>most certainly in the IETF's URL spec. To my knowledge, they are 
>perfectly good URLs.

I wonder how you are able to know about my file name conventions, but 
they do not conform to www.imc.org/rfc2017.

>>and the files are not accessible on the Web.
>They aren't? But I thought you were accessing them!

But not through the world wide web. I regularly read files while 
completely disconnected from any kind of Web, eg while flying. I have 
two computers in fact that are not connected to any other computer 
filing system and have no IP address, so I think that the files on 
them definitely have no URL.

>You must recognize the definition of Web we are using.

Maybe it would help if you could tell me what that definition is. As 
far as I can tell (see previous message), the Web in your sense is 
the entire universe; in fact, since (I am told by our chairman) even 
imaginary things (unicorns) are resources and so can have URI's , the 
Web would have to be actually larger than the universe. Is that 
impression correct? If so, Tim B-L should be given rather more credit 
than he is getting, since He apparently invented the entire cosmos.

>The Web is the set of all things that have URIs, not the set of 
>things you can type into your web browser and get bits back.

Im not sure how to interpret that, since I am not sure how to judge 
if anything has a URI. I know there are many things that do not have 
names, and many things (most things) do not have URLs. Maybe you 
could enlighten me about this; how can I tell if something has a URI 
and is therefore Webbified (what does one say? On the Web? In the 
Web? Part of the Web? Referred to by the Web? Potentially referred to 
by the Web?)

>>(They are on a Zip disc in my desk drawer.) Not all file names are 
>>URLs. File names have been used long before anyone thought of URLs.
>I don't see how that's relevant. I was around long before they 
>thought of naming me Aaron, but that's still my name, isn't it?

Yes, but it isn't your URI. My point was that URI's were only 
invented a while ago; the term is new.  Names (including file names) 
have been around much longer. If by "URI" you just mean "name", then 
why not just say "name" ? (Why are y'all using this  pseudo-technical 
terminology, if you just mean a plain old idea?)

>>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.
>I'd certainly agree with you. But please understand there is a 
>difference between scanning in the content of something, and simply 
>using a term to refer to it.

Of course I understand that difference. But referring to something 
does not incorporate that thing into the referring sign in any way. 
If a book describes Venice, it would be misleading, to put it mildly, 
to say that Venice was somehow 'in' the book, or that the book 
'contained' Venice. It *refers* to Venice. If your point is that 
anything, including a document, might have a URI because anything 
might be referred to by a URI (much as I might give a name to a speck 
of dust by simply declaring that I am going to call it 'speck17'), 
then of course in that sense anything nameable is what might be 
called web-refer-to-able. But to say that anything that is 
web-refer-to-able *is* on the Web, or *is* included in the Web, seems 
to me to be simply a misuse of terminology. On the face of it, it is 
obviously wrong, since many things are not in fact referred to at 
all, on the web or off it, and at any given time far more things are 
referred to off the web than on it; it ignores the presence of many 
other sources of reference (all of human spoken language, for a 
start); and, in the case of documents, it seems to confuse reference 
with containment, since there is an obvious sense in which an HTML 
file with a URL *is* 'on the web' in a way that something merely 
referred to by a document is not on the Web.

>Just giving it a URI

But I thought that your position was that it already has a URI; 
*everything* has a URI, right? (Or did you mean giving it a *new* 

>would "put it on the Web" so to speak,

That is a very bad way to speak, however, since it really doesn't 
mean what it seems to say. Just referring to something doesn't PUT it 
anywhere. At best, it creates a reference, but the referent of most 
references is quite unaffected by being referred to.

> although this disagrees with common usage. And it would never be 
>scanned in to some sort of global matrix.
>I know we've gone over this before

I don't think you and I have had this conversation  before (have we? 
When?) , though I have had similar discussions with Dan Connolly.

>so either you just aren't getting this, or you want to stir up 
>trouble. Either way, I think this conversation is over.

Indeed, I am not getting it. When people say things that seem 
obviously silly, I tend to assume as a default that I am not getting 
something. I find that the best way to find out what they really mean 
is often to take what they say at face value and point out how silly 
it seems to be. If pointing out apparent sillinesses is 'stirring up 
trouble', then I plead guilty; but in fact, I think it actually 
avoids more trouble than it causes, in the long run.

However, I do know a fair bit about names, references, meanings and 
semiotics, so maybe a little further dialog might be mutually useful, 
if you feel up to it.

Pat Hayes

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Received on Monday, 25 June 2001 13:20:34 UTC

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