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Re: URI: Name or Network Location?

From: Thomas B. Passin <tpassin@comcast.net>
Date: Mon, 19 Jan 2004 21:29:00 -0500
Message-ID: <400C926C.8050607@comcast.net>
To: www-rdf-interest@w3.org

Stephen K. Rhoads wrote:
> I am working on an ontology to describe streaming media and find myself
> unable to get my head around whether a dereferenced URI of a "typed"
> resource should result in a bit of RDF metadata or the data of the resource
> itself.  In other words, is the URI specified as the value of the rdf:about
> attribute "just a name", or is it to be interpreted as the "network
> location" for the data/resource/object itself?

There have been many threads on this, and a search for them will be 
useful.  The brief answer is "just a name".... BUT ....

There are several possibilities -

1) The URI is "just a name" BUT conveniently happens to point to some 
useful information about the URI.  This can be a useful convention.

2) The intention is to make a statement about the resource at the 
dereferencable URI itself.  For example, a statement about the designer 
of a web page.

3) The resource referenced by the URI exists, and contains relevant 
information that identifies or specifies the thing denoted by the URI.

The problem is, there is no way in RDF to distinguish between these 
three cases.  Strictly speaking, the URI is just a name.  The best bet, 
IMHO, is to use special properties whose objects are dereferenceable 
URIs, when you want to capture the intent of 2) or 3).  1) is a 
convention you may want to follow.

Topic Maps in effect behave like this recommendation.

So yes, they are "just names".


Tom P
Received on Monday, 19 January 2004 21:28:09 UTC

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