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Re: ISSUE-5 Definition of Resource

From: Karen Coyle <kcoyle@kcoyle.net>
Date: Sat, 10 Jan 2015 01:24:51 -0800
Message-ID: <54B0EFE3.5040703@kcoyle.net>
To: "Peter F. Patel-Schneider" <pfpschneider@gmail.com>, "public-data-shapes-wg@w3.org" <public-data-shapes-wg@w3.org>

On 1/8/15 3:06 PM, Peter F. Patel-Schneider wrote:
> A resource is anything.  Not all resources are identifiable.  Not all
> identifiable resources are identifiable via URIs.  Not all resources that
> are
> identifiable via URIs are identifiable via HTTP URIs.

As defined:

"The Resource Description Framework (RDF) is a framework for expressing 
information about resources. Resources can be anything, including 
documents, people, physical objects, and abstract concepts."[1]

[Note Dick Cheney is in there.]

2.1 rdfs:Resource

All things described by RDF are called resources, and are instances of 
the class rdfs:Resource. This is the class of everything. All other 
classes are subclasses of this class. rdfs:Resource is an instance of 

As I read this, the term "RDF resource" is limited to a particular use 
in RDF specifications, and is defined broadly but does not go beyond the 
function of RDF. Nothing about "RDF resource" is particular to the 
technology of IRIs, literals, or datatypes. On the other hand, 
rdfs:Resource has a precise technical definition which does include 
IRIs, literals, datatypes (and blank nodes).

Given that "Resources can be anything" one must not conclude that they 
have to be "everything." There is a difference between potential scope 
and necessary scope.

I think trying to get specific about the term "resource" in the context 
of RDF is a fool's errand, and it is definitely inappropriate to attempt 
to extend a definition beyond RDF specification (e.g. to Resource 
Shapes). It is even more clear to me that the term "resource" cannot be 
restricted to its RDF definition (if we could find that described more 
specifically than what I cite above) except in very particular 
circumstances. (I am beginning to think that all terms incorporated into 
specifications should be identified with IRIs; any term not identified 
with an IRI can devolve to its natural language meaning.) To use a term 
like "resource" in text and expect readers to ignore the natural 
language meaning of the term is to ignore issues of communication. We 
can designate "RDF resource" as defined above, but we cannot hijack the 
meaning of "resource", which already has a meaning outside of these 

"RDF resource" and "Resource Shapes resource" are different concepts. 
And the cultural heritage community will continue to refer to 
"bibliographic resources" and "archival resources" because that is 
precisely what we mean.


[1] http://www.w3.org/TR/2014/NOTE-rdf11-primer-20140624/
[2] http://www.w3.org/TR/2014/REC-rdf-schema-20140225/#ch_resource

Karen Coyle
kcoyle@kcoyle.net http://kcoyle.net
m: 1-510-435-8234
skype: kcoylenet/+1-510-984-3600
Received on Saturday, 10 January 2015 09:25:12 UTC

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