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

Re: does RDF require understanding all 82 URI schemes?

From: David Megginson <david@megginson.com>
Date: Mon, 12 Feb 2001 14:29:41 -0500
Message-ID: <14984.14757.623122.151128@localhost.localdomain>
To: www-rdf-interest@w3.org
Mark Grossman writes:

 > The first problem - a universally accepted identifer for common
 > "things" - has to be solved with reference to some common, public
 > repository of identifiers.

I don't think that a universally accepted identifier for most things
is too likely, but there's a lot of middle ground.  

Some things, like books, CDs, and many other kinds of merchandise,
already have identifiers (though they're not perfectly consistent or
unique); publicly-traded companies have almost reliable
exchange-unique symbols; some things (like countries and currency)
have ISO-approved identifiers; in all cases, it shouldn't be too
difficult to agree on URI conventions for their representation.

Those special cases aside, though, the most likely situation is a free
market of identifiers, including islands of ad-hoc agreement (Old
English scholars might agree to use existing identifiers from
catalogues of Old English manuscripts and books, for example).  If I
want to put data on the Web, it is in my interest to use an identifier
that is already well known, so that people can find my data easily; as
a result, identifiers for the most common things should start to
consolidate quickly, at least into a relatively small number of
alternatives for each thing.

A central authority, on the other hand, is scary.  Do we really want
to impose another Network Solutions on the world?  In any case, is
there any authority that could handle the trillions of objects that
might be registered each year (two businesses alone exchanging GIS
data could easily generate a billion objects)?

 > 1) You don't absolutely need a unique identifier for something, you can
 > use an unambiguous reference in some accepted namespace.  Just because
 > you dont have someone's U.S. Social Security number of an encoding of
 > their thumbprint doesn't mean you can't disambiguate them.

I agree, but disambiguation becomes much more difficult.  I don't need
the SSN, but an e-mail address might help.  

 > 2) Through the miracle of descriptions, you can hone in on something's
 > identity.  My name is fairly common, but augmented with my date and place
 > of birth, I can be uniquely identified.

You may choose not to make that information available, even if you do
publish other types of personal information.


All the best,


David

-- 
David Megginson                 david@megginson.com
           http://www.megginson.com/
Received on Monday, 12 February 2001 14:31:48 GMT

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