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Re: Distributed querying on the semantic web

From: Patrick Stickler <patrick.stickler@nokia.com>
Date: Thu, 22 Apr 2004 11:54:38 +0300
Message-Id: <AFB6EEE3-943A-11D8-AB55-000A95EAFCEA@nokia.com>
Cc: www-rdf-interest@w3.org, "Peter F. Patel-Schneider" <pfps@research.bell-labs.com>
To: "ext Phil Dawes" <pdawes@users.sourceforge.net>


On Apr 21, 2004, at 11:27, ext Phil Dawes wrote:

>
>
> Peter F. Patel-Schneider writes:
>> From: "Phil Dawes" <pdawes@users.sourceforge.net>
>> Subject: Re: Distributed querying on the semantic web
>> Date: Tue, 20 Apr 2004 18:19:28 +0100
>>
>>> All true. However the web shows us that people publishing information
>>> do tend to go to some lengths to ensure that it is as accessible and
>>> usable as possible. I suspect that if it becomes a convention that
>>> agents go to the URI when they don't have any other information,
>>> people will endeavour to put useful information there.
>>
>> Sure, and this would be really good.  However, I firmly believe that 
>> there
>> must not be any requirement, or even expectation, that this is *the*
>> information about a URI reference.  It must be possible, and not
>> stigmatized, to have different views concerning URI references.
>>
>
> Ah - I see your point now. It's not that you don't think that having
> information at the URI is a bad thing, it's that you don't think it
> should be considered the *authoritative* description of that
> information.
> I think I agree with you here - better to let society decide what
> information it trusts and wants to use rather than mandating it.
>

Here is where I disagree.

If I mint a term, denoted by a URI that I own, then I consider the
description/definition of that term that *I* give it to be the
authoritative description.

Whether others respect that authoritative definition is a secondary,
social issue -- not a technical one.

Formal languages are not natural languages. Formal languages should
not suffer from language drift as do natural languages (though it's
certainly possible for it to occur).

If some formal term is "hijacked" by some community and used in a way
that contradicts my authoritative definition, then that becomes a
social problem -- still, not a technical one.

It is still clear, based on the ownership of the URI itself, who has
the right to assert the authoritative definition of that term.

Agents who have no idea about the social conventions (and any possible
misuse of terms by some) and who encounter an unknown term, should
be able to presume that the authoritative description of that term
provided by the authority of the URI should be the correct and proper
definition to use.

To presume that agents should, by default, give equal status to both
authoritative descriptions and any and all third party descriptions
they might find, is to invite disaster.

How fun it will then be to spoof agents by publishing conflicting
definitions of key industry standard terms and seeding the SW
with them to confuse and harrass SW agents...

If a sufficient number of folks feel that the meaning of a given
term in common usage has changed, or should change, or never actually
meant what it was intended/defined to mean -- then social processes
should be employed to either convince the authority to change the
definition -- or to introduce an alternate term which can thereafter
be used to express the desired meaning. However, the web or SW
architecture will and should always dictate the authority of a
given URI denoted term and agents should respect authoritative
descriptions.

Patrick


--

Patrick Stickler
Nokia, Finland
patrick.stickler@nokia.com
Received on Thursday, 22 April 2004 05:00:27 GMT

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