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RE: Review of "Cool URIs for the Semantic Web"

From: Booth, David (HP Software - Boston) <dbooth@hp.com>
Date: Tue, 28 Aug 2007 14:52:54 -0400
Message-ID: <EBBD956B8A9002479B0C9CE9FE14A6C203195A67@tayexc19.americas.cpqcorp.net>
To: <www-tag@w3.org>, "Williams, Stuart (HP Labs, Bristol)" <skw@hp.com>
Cc: "Leo Sauermann" <leo.sauermann@dfki.de>

I missed Stuart's review of this "Cool URIs" document
http://www.dfki.uni-kl.de/~sauermann/2006/11/cooluris/
when I was away on vacation, but recently saw reference to it and wanted
to comment on one statement.

> From: Williams, Stuart (HP Labs, Bristol)
> [ . . . ]
> wrt "Be on the web": "Given only a URI, machines and people should be
> able to retrieve a description about this URI from the web. ..."  This
> is a little too loose, in that the description is not about 
> the URI but about the resource to which the URI refers. 
> [ . . . ]

While I assume that the above statement reflects the TAG's accepted
thinking on this topic to date, I think it is actually somewhat
incorrect, and the original phrasing by the Cool URIs authors was
actually better.

To illustrate why, suppose you receive a URI http://example.org/moon and
you wish to find out what resource it refers to.  (It refers to the
moon, but you don't know that yet.)  You dereference to find that it
303-redirects to http://example.org/moon-description.html which serves
only the following statements:

	http://dbooth.org/2007/moon/ is a moon.
	http://dbooth.org/2007/moon/ orbits the Earth.

Those statements describe the resource (the moon) even though they do
not happen to be using the same URI to refer to it.  (Bear in mind that
more than one URI can refer to the exact same resource.  In fact, in
this case http://dbooth.org/2007/moon/ owl:sameAs
http://example.org/moon , but you do not know that yet.)  Clearly, the
returned page is inadequate for helping you understand what resource
http://example.org/moon is intended to denote, even though the above
statements describe the *resource* perfectly well.   In fact, the *only*
thing that is lacking about this resource description is the fact that
the described resource is also intended to be *associated* with the URI
http://example.org/moon .

The right to establish such an association belongs to the URI owner, as
described in WebArch section 2.2.2.1:
http://www.w3.org/TR/webarch/#def-uri-ownership
[[
URI ownership is a relation between a URI and a social entity, such as a
person, organization, or specification. URI ownership gives the relevant
social entity certain rights, including:

   1. to pass on ownership of some or all owned URIs to another
owner-delegation; and
   2. to associate a resource with an owned URI-URI allocation.
]]

Thus, information that establishes this association is intrinsically
about the URI itself -- *not* merely about the resource.  This is the
idea behind a URI declaration, as described in this document:
http://dbooth.org/2007/uri-decl/

I would encourage the TAG to consider these ideas, and welcome any
comments on this document.


Thanks,


David Booth, Ph.D.
HP Software
+1 617 629 8881 office  |  dbooth@hp.com
http://www.hp.com/go/software

Opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not represent
the official views of HP unless explicitly stated otherwise.
Received on Tuesday, 28 August 2007 18:53:36 GMT

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