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Ontologies of the Web

From: Sandro Hawke <sandro@w3.org>
Date: Thu, 23 Jan 2003 15:51:59 -0500
Message-Id: <200301232051.h0NKpxm24851@wadimousa.hawke.org>
To: Miles Sabin <miles@milessabin.com>
cc: www-tag@w3.org


Miles Sabin wrote:
> Sandro Hawke wrote,
> > So I think of the web as mediated shared memory.  Each web address
> > (URI) points to a storage location.  GET means to read the contents
> > of a location, PUT means to store replacement contents in a location.
> > Sometimes I think of the locations as individual whiteboards,
> > bulletin boards, shelves, slots, or parts of a landscape where a
> > signboard could be placed.
> 
> I think this is a perfectly legitimate way of conceptualizing the web. 
> 
> But it's not obviously the one implicit in RDF. REST has yet another. 
> And my personal favourite of the moment is to think of the web as 
> comprised of processes and communication channels, where URIs name 
> communication endpoints rather than either shared memory locations, or 
> things in general, or abstract Resources. I'm sure other people have 
> other outlooks. Probably more than one, depending on the time of day 
> and the phase of the moon.
> 
> All are legitimate. All have their uses. All of them can be used as 
> guiding principles for building systems which do useful work. And if 
> someone adopts one rather than another that won't stop any code from 
> working. So I think it's critical that the Web Architecture not 
> underwrite any one of these views at the expense of the others. 

I'm torn.  On the one hand, yes, this is what ontologies are all
about.  We need to model things, sometimes the same things, in
different ways for different applications.  I recently started a page
of Ontologies of the Web [1], which I just updated a bit, ... but it's
hard work.  Ontologies (like computer programs) are best developed and
maintained in the light of real use cases.

On the other hand -- architectural guidance is important.  There are
surely many naive AND BAD models of the web, like the common
first-attempt ones which don't account for changing content, and many
more subtley bad ones.

Perhaps best would be several completed models, with both gentle
tutorials and formal ontologies, endorsed with commentary by the TAG
as being appropriate for certain kinds of work.

   -- sandro

[1] http://www.w3.org/2003/01/web/
Received on Thursday, 23 January 2003 15:54:11 GMT

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