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RE: Digest URI's

From: Dan Brickley <danbri@w3.org>
Date: Fri, 7 Apr 2000 10:26:12 -0400 (EDT)
To: "McBride, Brian" <bwm@hplb.hpl.hp.com>
cc: "'www-rdf-interest@w3.org'" <www-rdf-interest@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.20.0004071003570.12923-100000@tux.w3.org>

A brief note on anonymous resources:

Sometimes we don't know the commonly agreed ID for some entity, but
nevertheless write some RDF statements that mention it in passing. When
we send someone an RDF model and lack such URIs (sometimes because of
partial knowledge; sometimes because social process
doesn't exist to give uncontroversial URIs to these entitites) we still
need to represent those entities in some kind of data structure.

So these are the so-called 'anonymous resources'. I really think this is a
bad name; it suggests that the anonymity is in some way intrinsic to the
resource. That's not the case: rather, some 'mention' of that resource is
anonymous in that we happen not to name the resource on that occasion. 

Current implementations that I've seen don't distinguish well between
temporary / private placeholder IDs given to resources for sake of
maintaining references in a database, versus 'public' socially grounded

A workaround might be to use a 'genid:242348234782347234234'
style identifier, where applications shared a common undertanding that
these genid:'s, while unique, aren't publically associated with resources.
Rather, this would be an implementation hack to give placeholder names for
resources that either don't have established URI names or whose names we
don't know.

Aside - an 'RDF futures' opinion:
We really need a better understanding of how the Web architecture treats
naming as a social, legal and technical process. IMHO this is something
that needs to happen before we try to build hard logic systems on top of
RDF + digital signatures, since naming provides the glue that connects
this technology to the socially-grounded meaning of these constructs
(statements, identifiers etc)...


Received on Friday, 7 April 2000 10:27:16 UTC

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