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Re: Global identifiers (was: universal languages)

From: Dan Connolly <connolly@w3.org>
Date: Thu, 08 Feb 2001 09:53:20 -0600
Message-ID: <3A82C0F0.BA131C63@w3.org>
To: Graham Klyne <GK@Ninebynine.org>
CC: Stefan Decker <stefan@db.stanford.edu>, www-rdf-logic@w3.org
Graham Klyne wrote:
> One could imagine a web in which all relationships were expressed in terms
> of non-unique names.  One takes into account the place in which a reference
> occurs (its context) to decide that to which it refers. I fact, I think
> this is pretty much what you have when you walk into a library.
> But, such an implementation would not scale so easily to a world-wide
> network of instantly accessible information.  (Note I don't say "not
> possible", just "not so easy".)

Yes, I agree with this.

I think there are a lot of parallels with money/currency; it's possible
to do commerce without a common currency, deciding on a case-by-case
basis how many apples to trade for how many hours of work, but currency
makes so many transactions so much easier that it's worth having.

I started writing about this a little while ago...

... the Web is a sort of mass
hallucination shared among all the people and machines
distributed around the globe who accept the principles
of Web Architecture, much the way businesses and
consumers accept the principles of an economy based
on paper currency. By and large, we agree that there is
one http://www.w3.org/xyz, even though each of us
has slightly different experiences of it, much like by and
large, people in the U.S. have a shared concept of the
value of a dollar, even though in fact each person has a
slightly different perspective on what they're willing to
trade for one. The large scale effect is the result of each
participant following the same principles when they
communicate and interact with each other. 

--        Web Architecture: Protocols for State Distribution
Fri, 17 Sep 1999 21:28:26 GMT

I haven't finished that article yet, unfortunately.
But I think it's got some stuff that's worth reading.

> So I think the bottom line is that URIs are good because they give us a
> means to implement some aspects of our ideas, not because they (or any
> other global ID) is fundamental to the meaning of life, the universe and
> everything.  By weaving them into our particular view of life, etc., then
> we create possibilities for more easily implementing aspects of that view.
> So it appears that I take a contrary view to yours:  global IDs (URIs) are
> adopted for their present engineered status and what we can do with them,
> not because they're necessary.

Dan Connolly, W3C http://www.w3.org/People/Connolly/
Received on Thursday, 8 February 2001 10:53:30 UTC

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