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Can Resource be the top of our ontology ?

From: Seth Russell <seth@robustai.net>
Date: Sun, 8 Apr 2001 11:07:52 -0700
Message-ID: <00f801c0c056$d4e6f480$b17ba8c0@c1457248a.sttls1.wa.home.com>
To: "RDF-IG" <www-rdf-interest@w3.org>
Here, AFIK, thanks to Aaron Swartz's scholarship,
 is the ~official~ definition of "Resource".

<q cite="http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc2396.txt">
    Resource
         A resource can be anything that has identity.  Familiar
         examples include an electronic document, an image, a service
         (e.g., "today's weather report for Los Angeles"), and a
         collection of other resources.  Not all resources are network
         "retrievable"; e.g., human beings, corporations, and bound
         books in a library can also be considered resources.

         The resource is the conceptual mapping to an entity or set of
         entities, not necessarily the entity which corresponds to that
         mapping at any particular instance in time.  Thus, a resource
         can remain constant even when its content---the entities to
         which it currently corresponds---changes over time, provided
         that the conceptual mapping is not changed in the process.
</q>

But I would like to observe that Resources as defined above do not function
nicely as the only valid top of our ontology;  whereas Thing(s) do. Here are
my reasons:

1) The definition itself implies that there are things which can have no
identity by saying: "A resource can be anything that has identity".  So what
happens when we must talk of things with no identity?  Are these things to
have no ontological status?  Can I not describe a dust mite that was present
in the room in which I was born; or would I have to name the bugger first?

2) We desperately need a way to distinguish between a thing and its model
inside a system.  We need to make the age old distinction between a
territory and it's map.  I don't see how to do this using the definition of
Resource above.  An entire RDF node (all triples with the same subject)
function to model or represents something ... yet it obviously is not the
thing it models and represents.  We need a way to distinguish between the
thing itself and the RDF node which represents it within our computer
networks.  The definition above seems to provide no way to make that
distinction; since everything it recognizes in it's ontology is a Resource.

What am I missing ?

But on the other hand if we use Thing as the top of our ontology we can say
that Resources are either things like electronic documents or RDF
descriptions indside the computer network ... something like ...

language: Semenglish
Thing
    description "The top of our ontology";
    scope "Nothing is excluded.  Things even include those things that
represent other things".
Resource
    subClass Thing;
    containedIn (a computer network).
RDFdescription
    subClass Resource;
    comment "A set of RDF statements with the same subject";
    seeAlso "RDF node", Symbol;
    represent [a Thing];
    model [ a Thing];
    (can be identified by) URI.
ElectronicDocuments
    subClass Resource;
    (can be identified by) URI.

Seth
    (wants to discuss) Pentuples;
    (wants to collaborate on) SEM.
Pentuples
    see http://robustai.net/mentography/pentuples.gif ;
    comment "Are not meant as a replacement or extension of RDF";
    comment "Pentuples are a proposal for an internal data structure";
    (internal data structure of) SEM.
SEM
    label "Semantic Memory".
Received on Sunday, 8 April 2001 14:11:43 GMT

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