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Re: Squaring the HTTP-range-14 circle [was Re: Schema.org in RDF ...]

From: Pat Hayes <phayes@ihmc.us>
Date: Sat, 18 Jun 2011 23:05:44 -0500
Cc: David Booth <david@dbooth.org>, Linked Data community <public-lod@w3.org>, Jason Borro <jason@openguid.net>, Tim Berners-Lee <timbl@w3.org>
Message-Id: <6AEAFE92-A7D6-474A-80D5-7279836F5E9D@ihmc.us>
To: Danny Ayers <danny.ayers@gmail.com>
Really (sorry to keep raining on the parade, but) it is not as simple as this. Look, it is indeed easy to not bother distinguishing male from female dogs. One simply talks of dogs without mentioning gender, and there is a lot that can be said about dogs without getting into that second topic. But confusing web pages, or documents more generally, with the things the documents are about, now that does matter a lot more, simply because it is virtually impossible to say *anything* about documents-or-things without immediately being clear which of them - documents or things - one is talking about. And there is a good reason why this particular confusion is so destructive. Unlike the dogs-vs-bitches case, the difference between the document and its topic, the thing, is that one is ABOUT the other. This is not simply a matter of ignoring some potentially relevant information (the gender of the dog) because one is temporarily not concerned with it: it is two different ways of using the very names that are the fabric of the descriptive representations themselves. It confuses language with language use, confuses language with meta-language. It is like saying giraffe has seven letters rather than "giraffe" has seven letters. Maybe this does not break Web architecture, but it certainly breaks **semantic** architecture. It completely destroys any semantic coherence we might, in some perhaps impossibly optimistic vision of the future, manage to create within the semantic web. So yes indeed, the Web will go on happily confusing things with documents, partly because the Web really has no actual contact with things at all: it is entirely constructed from documents (in a wide sense). But the SEMANTIC Web will wither and die, or perhaps be still-born, if it cannot find some way to keep use and mention separate and coherent. So far, http-range-14 is the only viable suggestion I have seen for how to do this. If anyone has a better one, let us discuss it. But just blandly assuming that it will all come out in the wash is a bad idea. It won't. 

Pat

On Jun 18, 2011, at 1:51 PM, Danny Ayers wrote:

> On 17 June 2011 02:46, David Booth <david@dbooth.org> wrote:
> 
>> I agree with TimBL that it is *good* to distinguish between web pages
>> and dogs -- and we should encourage folks to do so -- because doing so
>> *does* help applications that need this distinction.  But the failure to
>> make this distinction does *not* break the web architecture any more
>> than a failure to distinguish between male dogs and female dogs.
> 
> Thanks David, a nice summary of the most important point IMHO.
> 
> Ok, I've been trying to rationalize the case where there is a failure
> to make the distinction, but that's very much secondary to the fact
> that nothing really gets broken.
> 
> Cheers,
> Danny.
> 
> http://danny.ayers.name
> 
> 

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Received on Sunday, 19 June 2011 04:06:17 UTC

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