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Re: Announcement: "Cool URIs for the Semantic Web" - W3C SWEO IG Note

From: Hugh Glaser <hg@ecs.soton.ac.uk>
Date: Fri, 11 Apr 2008 12:30:44 +0100
To: Pat Hayes <phayes@ihmc.us>
CC: "www-tag@w3.org" <www-tag@w3.org>, SWIG <semantic-web@w3.org>
Message-ID: <C4250A74.23E2B%hg@ecs.soton.ac.uk>

Addressing the first part of Pat's message:
Thanks Pat, nicely put, and very important.
It seems to be a common idea that a URI can and even should actually
identify a non-document resource. In practice this is a fallacy, which leads
to other broken ideas.
Such URIs do not properly identify anything any more than words do in
language. If we expected words to be such accurate identifiers, we would be
unable to begin non-trivial communication; if we expect URIs to be such
accurate identifiers, we will be unable to build a non-trivial Semantic Web.

Best
Hugh

On 09/04/2008 06:12, "Pat Hayes" <phayes@ihmc.us> wrote:

> Nice document. A few quibbles:
>
> -----------
>
> "Given such a URI, how can we find out what it identifies? We need some way to
> answer this question, because otherwise it will be hard to achieve
> interoperability between independent information systems. "
>
> I know you probably don't want to get involved with philosophical issues, but
> this sentence is so wrong as to be misleading. We CANNOT POSSIBLY find out
> what any name identifies, other than by being explicitly handed the thing or
> being pointed to it (as in the pre-semantic Web). The best we can POSSIBLY do
> is to have a detailed enough description of the thing for our purposes; but no
> description can completely identify a single thing. So your second sentence
> above is particularly misleading: it suggests that the Web will not work
> unless we all do something impossible before breakfast.
>
> Moreover, getting involved with this highly debatable issue isn't needed, to
> motivate the subsequent content of the note. The point is not that we need to
> be able to discover what exactly it is that non-document URIs denote. The
> central point is only that, pretty much by definition, they denote something
> that isn't a document, which is why we need to distinguish the URI for the
> thing from a URI for any document/"information resource" which describes the
> thing. You can avoid the philosophical/semantic tar-pit of the nature of
> reference and how it can be determined, by sticking to this basic point in
> your introduction.
>
>
> ------------
>
> Best wishes
>
> Pat Hayes
Received on Friday, 11 April 2008 11:31:37 GMT

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