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Re: Building terminological consensus, part 1: Foundations

From: Harry Halpin <hhalpin@ibiblio.org>
Date: Tue, 10 Jul 2007 12:48:29 -0400
Message-ID: <4693B85D.4050905@ibiblio.org>
To: Pat Hayes <phayes@ihmc.us>
Cc: "Williams, Stuart (HP Labs, Bristol)" <skw@hp.com>, www-tag <www-tag@w3.org>

Pat Hayes wrote:

>> However, as far as Webarch goes, it places the right and
>> responsibility to 'baptise' on "URI owners" - ownership being
>> established through some social process - eg. I get to own an
>> infinite bunch of URIs for 10 for each 2-year period - which is
>> about 0p each which I suppose is reasonable. That I cease to 'own'
>> them if I fail to pay is maybe more worrying... and what becomes of
>> them once I cease to be around to pay I guess I should care about -
>> but have so far failed to take a socially responsible attitude in
>> that respect :-).
> Yes, I've read all of that stuff. It all talks about OWNERSHIP. OK,
> lets take it as undisputed that I OWN, say, 
> "http://www.ihmc.us/users/phayes/PatHayes.html" . It is MINE, to do
> with what I like. (Evil cackle, rubbing of hands.)
> Now, what I actually want to do with it is, to make it denote me. I
> want to baptize me with that URI, to attach that URI to me. HOW DO I
> DO THAT? What constitutes an act of naming, and how is the result of
> that act recorded?  There simply is nothing said about this anywhere
> in the W3C corpus, AFAIK. Its a huge gaping gap in the whole picture.
Maybe the simplest answer is what you already did [1]. I think when
Henry was talking about baptizing, he was saying that the person who
"owns" the URI (which is a simple causal process, easily tracked with
whois) has the right to baptize the URI to  name/denote whatever he or
she wants.

But...how is this communicated? Again, you have to host representations
like [1] that explicate, as well as possible, the meaning of the
resource. And while perfect communication is, alas, impossible, it's
better than nothing. And yes, named graphs are a step in the right
direction, but eventually even named graphs bottom out not in opaque
URIs, or mysterious "resources", but representations that explicate the

I think the best analogy to philosophy of language is, for the hypertext
Web, Wittegenstein ala "meaning is use", and for the SemWeb, Davidson's
take on radical interpretation, where we basically, to construct what a
speaker of a language means by a given word, have to look at the sum
total of true sentences they utter (or if trying to figure out what a
"resource" is, what representations they host in Web-land), and assume
the Principle of Charity, i.e. that the person speaking is not insane
and is doing their best to communicate what they mean.

[1] http://www.ihmc.us/users/phayes/PatHayes.html

> Pat


Harry Halpin,  University of Edinburgh 
http://www.ibiblio.org/hhalpin 6B522426
Received on Tuesday, 10 July 2007 16:48:45 GMT

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