W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-rdf-interest@w3.org > August 2001

Re: anonymous nodes

From: Seth Russell <seth@robustai.net>
Date: Wed, 15 Aug 2001 09:41:08 -0700
Message-ID: <006101c125a9$171a8800$b17ba8c0@c1457248a.sttls1.wa.home.com>
To: <www-rdf-interest@w3.org>, <scranefield@infoscience.otago.ac.nz>, <sean@mysterylights.com>, <Patrick.Stickler@nokia.com>
From: <Patrick.Stickler@nokia.com>

> Just for the record, I'm not on any crusade to get rid of
> anonymous nodes (at the moment at least ;-)

Whew! ... i was worried about that ...  and that was my sole reason for
responding.

> If folks find them useful, fine. *BUT* I am very much
> interested in seeing that the core, fundamental, basic
> representation of knowledge (such as resource identity) is
> *not* defined in terms of anonymous nodes.

Well certainly where the community can adopt effective naming conventions,
we should use those in preference to descriptions.  Yet there are limits to
effective naming.  For example, there are billions of people .... i see no
*politically* feasible method of agreeing on a global URI structure to name
them all ... do you?  Each of those billions of people have billions of
ideas .. any one of which we might want to talk about in RDF ... some of
those ideas are the same and we would want them to have the same URI  ....
alas it's impossible.   In fact as we stand here today I don't even know a
way that I can give myself a URI that will stick and be used by other
people, do you?

> While I certainly subscribe to the need to be able to define
> axioms based on queries, and that such queries may not care what
> the actual identity of the resources are, operating only on
> the basis of their properties -- eventually, if either the
> explicit or inferred knowledge is to be useful outside the
> scope of a given system (such as to e.g. some other agent
> or a human needing information) then those resources will
> ultimately have to have some recognizable and globally
> unique identity, no?

No.  But yes, we do need our communications grounded in terms that we agree
upon .. and, yes, to the extent that we cannot agree to use common terms, we
have no communication.   Interestingly enough the verbs (RDF property names)
are more important than the nouns.  That's why we started SWAG

http://purl.org/swag/

Note that this name works because there is a method to dereference it !

> How does it help if, after your above axiom is applied, I
> do a query such as 'get me all resources X where [X gar poop]
> and I get back X = [] or X = G28998_2898193282.28281. Not
> particularly informative, eh?

No but that's not the way the example would work ... in fact it would look
more like that were we to try to use only URI.   You query should return
[foo bloop; bar goop].

> It is true that we will never escape implicit knowledge or the need
> to make statements about things where we do not know their precise
> identity, but those should be the exceptions to the rule, and the
> general machinery of RDF should discourage (or at least not encourage)
> the definition of inexplicit knowledge.

Ok, I agree that RDF should encourage the use of URI .. which it certainly
already does.  I'd even want the W3C to provide some more practical guidance
in the process of assigning URI to things other than internet retrievable
documents .... otherwise there is no reason to expect anything but chaos,
in which case the URI become useless.  But at the same time we should know
that the Tower of Babel is a reality, and not try to wish it away.
Building a global system that assumes that every thing will have an explicit
name which every body uses to identify it,  is just nonsense.  Rather, I
think,  we should build mechanisms into our semantic web systems that
attempt to do fuzzy matches on properties to identify entities.

Seth Russell
Received on Wednesday, 15 August 2001 12:47:35 GMT

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