W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-rdf-logic@w3.org > April 2001

Re: A plea for peace. was: RE: DAML+OIL (March 2001) released: a correction

From: Aaron Swartz <aswartz@swartzfam.com>
Date: Mon, 16 Apr 2001 22:22:11 -0500
To: Dan Brickley <danbri@w3.org>
CC: RDF Logic <www-rdf-logic@w3.org>
Message-ID: <B7011FF2.95C5%aswartz@swartzfam.com>
Dan Brickley <danbri@w3.org> wrote:

> So it doesn't do any good to
> proclaim alice-in-wonderlandishly that some URI names some set of real
> world entities. URIs were a neat hack that made web version 1.0 work
> extraordinarily well, but sometimes people on www-rdf-interest seem to
> treat them as magic. They're not, and the asignation of URI names to
> things is just as philosophically problematic as any other kind (ie. very,
> when you dig into the detail).

Exactly, which is why I feel it is so important that we come to
clarification about how to define the meaning of a URI. As I've stated
before, many people have many opinions on this, so we still need to come to
a consensus.

> The vague notion of "giving a URI" to something isn't something we're
> I fail to see how abiding by a particular syntax for names (RFC 2396)
> exempts us from this the complexities that have always surrounded any
> attempts to reason precisely about naming and reference. It's just plain
> hard. The more we can persuade people to use URIs in the same way, the
> better our Web information systems will get. But please let's not
> over-sell the merits of URIs.

Of course. As I've tried to explain time and again, a URI is just a system
for getting names that don't step on anyone's toes. You can define those
names to mean whatever you want, and there are rudimentary systems in place
for finding out what they mean. However, my purpose in this discussion was
to find where that process breaks down and how it can be improved. It's
clear that it's not perfect -- in fact it's greatly flawed. But that doesn't
mean it's useless, nor does it mean we should throw years of web
architecture away and start over.

As many others have said, the Web will always be a little bit broken --
404s, poorly defined URIs, etc. -- but for the most part, it works. And
we've gotten a lot of mileage out of that fact. While it's always great to
improve, we need to learn to have a bit of tolerance for things that a

[ Aaron Swartz | me@aaronsw.com | http://www.aaronsw.com ]
Received on Monday, 16 April 2001 23:22:13 UTC

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.1 : Wednesday, 2 March 2016 11:10:34 UTC