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

Re: Meaning of URIRefs

From: Sandro Hawke <sandro@w3.org>
Date: Fri, 25 Oct 2002 22:47:00 -0400
Message-Id: <200210260247.g9Q2l0827016@wadimousa.hawke.org>
To: pat hayes <phayes@ai.uwf.edu>
cc: www-rdf-interest@w3.org

> Sure, strong-hint is fine, I guess. But look: suppose you in fact 
> just said something sensible about _:x, say that it was a cat and 
> also a Siamese, and suppose some other schmuk said that all Siamese 
> were dogs. I now have a contradiction derived from three sources. 
> There's nothing you can do to protect me from believing some nonsense 
> written by someone else. So no matter what *you* say, *I* need to be 
> always on my toes to make sure I don't just believe anything people 
> say using other people's urirefs. For that matter, I need to be on my 
> toes when reading what people say about their OWN urirefs; there is 
> lots of silly stuff out there which was written by its original 
> authors. There are even people who think that emailboxes are human 
> beings, for example.
> >
> >If some other web document (not at the animals URI) says that
> >animals:Dog is a subclass of animals:Tree (disjoint from
> >animals:Mammals), does the reader have any basis for thinking that
> >_:spot is more legitimately an animals:Mammal than an animals:Tree?
> Strict answer: no. Realistic answer: maybe, because owners of urirefs 
> are more likely to take some care with what they say using those 
> urirefs. Bottom line: you, the RDF reader, have to decide who you 
> trust. Caveat lector.

I don't think it needs to be so bleak.  I think people can handle
being dubious and weighing trust about a small number of sources, and
if we have some kind of imports mechanism, that's all they'll need to

Imagine if the HTML web had two kinds of links: links to agreed-with
documents and links to not-necessarily-agreed-with documents.  People
wouldn't have to shift trust-gears when following the first kind of
link.  I suggest that this is largely the case; aside from
directory-style or search-result-style pages, links of the second type
are almost always clearly marked.   (Graphic style is also heavily
used; users re-engage their judgement when they come to a page that
looks very different.) 

Imagine users asking questions like "According to The Times, Is Dubya
President?".  The Times judges the trustworthiness of many sources, so
users don't have to.  (Of course users may chose to, if, for instance,
they don't really trust The Times.  But they shouldn't always have

So RDF could really use a way to say another document is true.  It
might turn out to be owl:imports, or the URI-Ref mechanism I'm
proposing, or something else....

    -- sandro
Received on Friday, 25 October 2002 22:47:44 UTC

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