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SemWeb Non-Starter -- Distributed URI Discovery

From: Stephen Rhoads <rhoadsnyc@mac.com>
Date: Fri, 18 Mar 2005 17:49:39 -0500
Message-ID: <5944957.1111186179839.JavaMail.rhoadsnyc@mac.com>
To: semantic-web@w3.org, www-rdf-interest@w3.org

Until today, I considered myself to be squarely in the "slash" camp in the hash/slash debate.  Then something occurred to me which has got me all upset because it has serious implications for my project [1] -- which is inherently distributed in nature.

As far as I can tell, there is no formal, generalized mechanism to reliably query the owner of a URI in order to obtain an RDF Description of that URI.  And this is a serious impediment to the Semantic Web.

"hashing" at least gets you part of the way because -- given an HTTP URI containing a hash and frag ID -- it is *likely* that one can dereference the URI into a document containing (amongst other things) an RDF description of the URI in question.

For example, if I encounter the URI

http://www.somemediacompany.com/rdfdata/music/classical#resource

chances are I can dereference “http://www.somemediacompany.com/rdfdata/music/classical” and find within that document an RDF description of “#resource”.

If, one the other hand, I encounter

http://www.somemediacompany.com/rdfdata/music/classical/resource

then I can’t make any assumptions about whether or not this URI refers to some sort of document containing an RDF description of “resource”.  The URI owner may just have chosen to mint URIs using some logical hierarchy.

So, given an arbitrary URI, how can I obtain an RDF Description of that URI?

I suppose I could crawl the domain “containing” the URI with a spider and harvest RDF data until I find the description I’m looking for, but that’s a bit of a mess.  And it certainly doesn’t scale.

I read up a bit on SPARQL -- particularly the "SPARQL Protocol for RDF" -- and, unless I'm misunderstanding, it seems to be the intended long term solution to the problem described herein.  Is that correct?  Is it expected that URI owner/minters will operate some sort of SPARQL server for providing RDF Descriptions of their URIs?  Will there be some convention as to the location of these servers such that one can *reliably* and automatically query for an RDF Description of a URI?

Have I framed this problem correctly?  Are there solutions or angles which I have missed?  Input would be greatly appreciated.

--- Stephen

[1] http://www.dmmp.org (Digital Media Metadata Project)
Received on Friday, 18 March 2005 23:02:44 GMT

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