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Re: Clarifying what a URL identifies (Four Uses of a URL)

From: Jan Algermissen <algermissen@acm.org>
Date: Fri, 24 Jan 2003 15:09:45 +0100
Message-ID: <3E314929.3CA6699D@acm.org>
To: Tim Berners-Lee <timbl@w3.org>
CC: Larry Masinter <LMM@acm.org>, www-tag@w3.org

Tim Berners-Lee wrote:
> 
> Larry,
> 
> That is a good summary, and solution.  Except for one small
> thing. RDF uses IMHO the "identifies" function.
> 
> When RDF wants
> to refer to something "indicated", it uses an explicit relation
> ("property", "arc") joining that identified and that "indicated".
> Your indicates(context) which I find a little fuzzy but I know what you
> mean. For each "indicates" function there is  in RDF a named
> function which actually maps the resource, not the URI
> onto the "indciated" thing.
> 
> So RDF is using the same relationship as the "working web".
> 
> "http://...foo"     --identifies->  [A resource]    <- con:homePage --
>   [a person]
> 
> In your model you would say here that in some context, "http://...foo"
> "indicates" the person.

But then...what would be so wrong about that!? IMHO it's really the only
solution for the ambiguity problem that the Semantic Web needs to use
URIs as identifiers for abstract concepts *and* as addresses for things
that it makes sense to perform GET,POST,PUT and DELETE on.

Jan
> 
> Tim
> 
> On Friday, Jan 24, 2003, at 01:49 US/Eastern, Larry Masinter wrote:
> 
> >
> > At some risk (since I'll claim to be arguing from
> > authority, too), I thought I would chime in.
> >
> > I think the problem is the overly broad use of
> > 'identifier', not the broad use of 'resource'.
> > My suggestion is to define the 'identifies' function
> > narrowly and add another function ('indicates') for
> > semantic web and denotational uses.
> >
> > Progress was made on 'URI equivalence' by accepting that
> > there were multiple equivalence relationships, they
> > were different, that different applications might
> > have different needs, and that we would discuss the
> > different equivalence relationships.
> >
> > To make progress on URI identification, accept that
> > there are multiple functions; say that the 'identifies'
> > function maps a URI to a Resource, and that there
> > are 'indicates' functions which map from a URI
> > to a 'concept'.  Since there are many (more than 4)
> > contexts, write 'indicates(context)' for the function
> > for a given context, i.e.:
> >
> >    identifies(URI) -> Resource
> >    indicates(context) (URI)  -> Concept
> >
> > Note that the range of 'indicates(context)' is
> > not a 'Resource', but something broader and even
> > less well defined.
> >
> > In this formalism, you can say that
> > web browsers and most of the "working web" use
> > the 'identifies' function; it controls what happens
> > when you click on a link (the browser connects
> > to the resource identified), or chase down a
> > pointer in LDAP.
> >
> > However, other applications ('XML namespace names',
> > 'RDF assertions', 'inline in text') use a different
> > 'indicates' function instead. Their range is
> > not necessarily a 'resource'. In this formalism,
> > a 'namespace' need not be a 'Resource'.
> >
> > I don't know how many 'contexts' there are, but
> > surely there are more than four. Perhaps each
> > RDF assertion carries its own context, for that
> > matter.  While it is desirable that
> >   indicates(context) (URI) == indicates2 (context)(identifies(URI))
> > i.e., that what a URI indicates (for a given context)
> > depends only on the resource that the URI identifies,
> > this is not the case in many situations. For the
> > purpose of "indication", the URI is not opaque.
> > (I think this is a good definition of what it
> > means for a URI to be opaque, by the way: that
> > the application context does not depend on anything
> > about the URI other than the resource it identifies.)
> >
> > The definition of a URI scheme should define the
> > 'identifies' function; it cannot easily define
> > any 'indicates' functions. For 'http', the 'identifies'
> > function winds up being "whatever you connect to
> > by sending HTTP messages to the server designated by
> > the host:port of the URI, using the path of the URI,
> > at the time that the 'identifies' function is invoked
> > by an interpreter."
> >
> > In this model, 'identifies' is construed narrowly.
> > But the range of 'indicates' can be quite broad.
> >
> > The fact that a process might subsequently
> > link to Dan's car or the state of a light switch
> > is interesting but there is no need to try to
> > promote those things (which may or may not be a
> > Resource in the traditional sense) into resources.
> >
> > Note also that the domain of the 'indicates' function
> > is broader than the domain of the 'identifies' function.
> > 'identifies' accepts only absolute URIs, with no fragment
> > identifiers. 'indicates' also works with URI references
> > that have fragment identifiers.
> >
> > RDF uses an 'indicates' function. When I use
> > http://www.w3.org to talk about the World Wide Web
> > Consortium or the web server or a web page at
> > a particular point in time -- in each case, this
> > is a different context for the 'indicates'
> > function.
> >
> > Does this introduction of terminology help separate
> > out the different uses of URIs?
> >
> > Larry
> > --
> > http://larry.masinter.net
> >

-- 
Jan Algermissen                           http://www.topicmapping.com
Consultant & Programmer	                  http://www.gooseworks.org
Received on Friday, 24 January 2003 09:08:41 GMT

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