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Re: Editor's Draft of ISSUE-57 URI Usage Primer

From: David Booth <david@dbooth.org>
Date: Tue, 09 Oct 2012 12:32:30 -0400
To: "Henry S. Thompson" <ht@inf.ed.ac.uk>
Cc: Jeni Tennison <jeni@jenitennison.com>, www-tag <www-tag@w3.org>
Message-ID: <1349800350.18784.12397.camel@dbooth-laptop>
Hi Henry,

On Tue, 2012-10-09 at 10:55 +0100, Henry S. Thompson wrote:
>  . . . The landing-page/thing-described
> ambiguity is a problem of web architecture and for web architecture.
> The other problems (which are not problems which I recognise as what I
> believe linguistics or philosophy of language call *ambiguity*, but
> rather are problems of *vagueness*.  'Everest' is not ambiguous, it's
> vague.  But that requires another post) are problems which appear to
> me to be shared by virtually _all_ human-engaged naming systems
> (i.e. not purely computational ones, such as programming-language
> identifiers).
> 
> So the first (landing-page/thing-described) _must_ be addressed by web
> architecture -- it's _our_ problem.  But the second (vagueness of the
> thing identified) is just a fact of life, which by-and-large works to
> our advantage.  It may give rise to difficulties in some, particularly
> formal deductive, circumstances, but as such it _isn't_ just our
> problem, and doesn't make sense to me to expect or seek a
> web-architecture-specific solution.

I think not, but let's suppose for a moment that it is, and examine this
more deeply.  Bearing in mind that the context of this issue is the
RDF / Semantic Web use case:

1. What exactly do you mean by ambiguity, and how does it differ from
vagueness?

2. Why exactly do you think this landing-page-versus-thing-described
ambiguity is specially important to Web architecture?   What exactly
would break if it were not resolved?  

I can see that some applications would not work properly with
landing-page-versus-thing-described ambiguity, such as those that need
to understand what license is associated with what content.  But this is
true of *any* kind ambiguity.  For example, an application that needs to
count the relative incidence of each strain of influenza would not work
properly with a URI that (ambiguously) denotes the influenza virus but
fails to distinguish between different strains.  Why exactly do you see
the landing-page-versus-thing-described case as fundamentally different
and important to Web architecture?


-- 
David Booth, Ph.D.
http://dbooth.org/

Opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily
reflect those of his employer.
Received on Tuesday, 9 October 2012 16:33:05 GMT

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