W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-rdf-interest@w3.org > April 2002

Re: Documents, Cars, Hills, and Valleys

From: Nick Matsakis <matsakis@mit.edu>
Date: Thu, 11 Apr 2002 08:35:54 -0400 (EDT)
To: Giles Hogben <giles.hogben@jrc.it>
cc: www-rdf-interest@w3.org
Message-ID: <Pine.OSX.4.44.0204110812060.19179-100000@artoo.ai.mit.edu>

On Thu, 11 Apr 2002, Giles Hogben wrote:

> I would like to see some practical examples of what real world problems
> are caused by the two points of view. If this issue is really so
> important then I'd like to know what difference it's going to make to
> anyone or anything other than being able to say "a URI refers to a
> document, not a car".

As I see it, the problem is one of namespace collision.  If you are
deciding in your application to use http:// URIs for, say, people, you
will run into problems when you try to exchange information with
applications which use http:// resources (exclusively) for web pages.

In RDF, we are always free to disagree and give different names to the
same thing.  However, we should *never* give the same name to different
things.  If you want to give an http:// URI to something which is made up
of atoms, then you run the risk of encountering someone who uses that same
URI to refer just to the bits.  If you find yourself saying, "Well,
someone else might rightly use this URI to refer to the _representation_
of the thing I'm talking about..." this is an indication that it might not
be a good choice for a name.

Just to be clear, I'm not saying that http:// URIs should only be used for
documents, but only for bit-based lifeforms.  Web services, images, and
databases are all bit-based.  People, cars, and printers are not.

Nick Matsakis
Received on Thursday, 11 April 2002 08:36:02 GMT

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