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

Re: Documents, Cars, Hills, and Valleys

From: Thomas B. Passin <tpassin@comcast.net>
Date: Wed, 24 Apr 2002 09:13:11 -0400
To: www-rdf-interest@w3.org
Message-id: <002b01c1eb91$c8f37bf0$0bf13044@tbp>
[Bill de hÓra]

> Hi Danny,

>
> > Ok, if I'm talking about the size of http://www.microsoft.com
> > am I talking about the number of employees or the number of
> > characters on their home page?
>
> My common sense says you're talking about the home page. After all,
> you're using a http: scheme URI. Unfortunately common senses aren't
> always interoperable. If one wants to go ahead and use http: scheme
> URIs as proper names, ie the represented resource is a company
> instead of home page, they could at least attempt to provide a
> protocol to aid disambiguation. Be clear.
>

Topic maps attempt to disambiguate this case by letting you specifiy if the
subject of discourse is the page itself or the subject of the page.  Of
course, it may happen that the subject of the page is not clear, or that it
has many subjects.  In Topic maps, a fall-back onto human judgement is
always assumed.  That's probably good enough for producing maps to be used
by other people, but perhaps not enough if the main goal is
machine-to-machine "understanding", negotiation, and so on.

In this particular example, it's easy to assume that the subject of
http://www.microsoft.com is in fact Microsoft the company (but how would a
computer know this if a person had not already encoded it?).  Once we have
the subject, we do not have to refer to it as http://www.microsoft.com. We
can remove the ambiguity for users of our triples about it.   For example,
we can create an anonynous node and say that its type is "company" and that
the uri representing this resource is (for example)
"urx:companies:microsoft", then use that uri.

My take on this is that we are so far from understanding how people to all
the disambiguating that they do, and how they can come to understand the
meanings of words from common usage and circular definitions, that it will
be a long time before we can get the computers to do it except for simple
cases - Cyc not withstanding.

So we better plan on making the most of simple cases.  Which is what the
original Web did in the first place.

Cheers,

Tom P
Received on Wednesday, 24 April 2002 09:07:51 GMT

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