W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-webpayments@w3.org > March 2014

Re: "Web Identity" -> "Web Credentials"

From: Kingsley Idehen <kidehen@openlinksw.com>
Date: Thu, 13 Mar 2014 23:37:31 -0400
Message-ID: <5322797B.7060709@openlinksw.com>
To: public-webpayments@w3.org
On 3/13/14 10:03 PM, Manu Sporny wrote:
> On 03/11/2014 01:14 PM, Melvin Carvalho wrote:
>> Loosely speaking, In Foaf you have a Person, and you have a the
>> super class which is an Agent which can be a robot, human, group or
>> corporation.
> Ah, so here's the disconnect. I'm not talking about FOAF at all. I'm
> talking about the English language definition of "Agent":
> a·gent ˈājənt/ noun
> 1. a person who acts on behalf of another.
> 2. a person or thing that takes an active role or produces a specified
>     effect.

Either == foaf:Agent.


"Natural languages are the most sophisticated systems of communication 
ever developed." -- John F. Sowa [1] .

> You are talking about foaf:Agent, which deviates from the English
> language definition quite wildly (and is thus very confusing to people
> that don't know about FOAF, which is the vast majority of the Web
> Developer population):
> http://xmlns.com/foaf/spec/#term_Agent
> Agent - An agent (eg. person, group, software or physical artifact).

See my comment above.
> We should go with English language definitions because that's what
> people are familiar with (not some esoteric Semantic Web thing).

You keeping on harping on this theme, so if you really want to go there, 
then we stick we what we all know i.e., subject, predicate, object based 
statements. This is what every human being understands, formally  and 

"Semantic Web" is a phrase that simply implies: webby natural language. 
It cuts out the cruft and hones into:

1. identifiers -- signs for denotation (naming, referring to, signification)
2. syntax -- rules for using identifiers to construct statements 
according to the relationship roles of their referents
3. semantics -- what's implied by a relationship via its predicate i.e, 
the meaning of the relationship.

>   Dan
> Brickley, who created FOAF, now works for Google on schema.org. The spec
> is dead. Schema.org killed it. We should stop using it.

Again, you are misunderstanding matters. I have an example for you that 
demonstrates my point. It shows how all the data being created using 
Schema.org terms meshes with all the data in the Linked Open Data cloud, 
just as a consequence of a very basic relation that asserts equivalence 
between classes defined by both vocabularies [2].

The Web's architecture isn't about the kind of compromises you are 
implying here. It's about dexterous architecture that handles the good, 
bad, and ugly. For we humans, imperfection is a feature, so there are no 
perfect languages, applications, or tools. Instead, we continue to 
innovative along a continuum that's eternally dependent on dexterous 

For example, imagine mankind without natural language. Likewise, imagine 
computing that's actually an optimization of natural language (and I 
don't have any archaic procedural or OO language [new or old] in mind) 
and what you will arrive at is the very essence of what the architecture 
of the Web facilitates.

>> The super class of Agent I think is a "Thing".
>> "Agent" itself is not tied to foaf in the Web Identity spec, it seems
>> to be more or less the same thing you are saying.
> You could say that what we are talking about is the identity of a Thing.
> Again, going back to the English language:
> i·den·ti·ty īˈdentitē/ noun
> 1. the fact of being who or what a person or thing is.

Identity is the consequence of signification via an identifier. That's 
how the subjective state of being is asserted.

> Let's stop using esoteric Semantic Web vocabularies that are now over 14
> years old.

This isn't the issue. Vocabularies will come and go. The fundamental 
logic won't change in regards to what a language enables us encode and 

> Primarily, let's stop using them because they don't line up
> with the standard English definition, which is going to confuse Web
> developers.

And what would you say to the Chinese, French, German, Spanish, and 
other non English speakers? The Web is not the "World Wide English 
Language Web". There are reason for that, and it goes back to the 
subject, predicate, object triple. All the aforementioned natural 
languages are notations for the same abstract language [3].

>> "identity" A set of information that can be used to identify a
>> particular entity such as a person, agent, or organization. An entity
>> may have multiple identities associated with it.
>> "identity URL" An identity URL consists of an HTTP or HTTPS scheme
>> and denotes an identity.
>> "identity document" (don't know if this is necessary) A document that
>> exists at an identity URL and contains statements about an identity.
>> May help with an example
>> I am a type of Person.  Which is a type of agent.  In your
>> terminology am I an Identity, I think not.  So what am I?
> You're down one level too many. You're at the Semantic Web Vocabulary
> level. "identity" is at the conceptual level. You are a thing that is a
> person. Information about you is your identity, and you can have
> multiple identities depending on which subset of information about you
> is used. The standard English definition of "identity" is what we're
> using in the spec.

Only if the spec implies that an identifier signifies an Identity via a 
denotation relation. Basically that the following are distinct:

1. identity -- abstract and nebulous
2. identifier -- WebID (an HTTP URI that denotes an Agent [person, 
organization, machine] )
3. identification -- description based on attribute=value pairs that 
coalesce around an WebID .

>> The digital string that "denotes" me on the web, is
>> http://melvincarvalho.com/#me
> That's a perfectly fine way to denote yourself on the Web.
>> The (profile/identity) document which contains more information about
>> me can be dereferenced at http://melvincarvalho.com/ and specific
>> statements about me found at the #me anchor.
> Fine as well.
>> So I wonder is identity a super class of agent?
> No, that's a strange FOAF-ism. I'm arguing that we should use the
> English language definition of "agent", which is:
> a·gent ˈājənt/ noun
> 1. a person who acts on behalf of another.
> 2. a person or thing that takes an active role or produces a specified
>     effect.
> And an identity is this:
> i·den·ti·ty īˈdentitē/ noun
> 1. the fact of being who or what a person or thing is.
> Agents can have an identity.
> Things can have an identity.
> People can have an identity.
>> In the terminology above which is the Identity, the Identity URL and
>> the Identity Document?
> Identity is abstract.

Yes it is.

> Identity URL is http://melvincarvalho.com/#me

No, you have two things there:

1. <http://melvincarvalho.com/> -- Identity Card (Passport)
2. <http://melvincarvalho.com/#me> -- Identifier (Passport Number) which 
is what a WebID is too i.e., passport number for the World Wide Web (but 
you can have a zillion of these, for different profiles).

> Identity Document is the thing that you have when you HTTP GET
> http://melvincarvalho.com/#me

It's retrieved from the location denoted by the HTTP URI/URL: 

>>  From my POV, I already implement turtle, but would not be a huge
>> effort for me to add json ld I think.
> For you it's not a huge effort because:
> 1) You studied mathematics under Stephen Hawking, which probably means
>     you're incredibly intelligent. :)
> 2) Have a deep knowledge of the Semantic Web and its intricacies as well
>     as programming
> 3) Already know TURTLE and would find it easy to implement just about
>     any data expression language.

This isn't about Turtle, JSON-LD, RDF/XML, HTML+Microdata, HTML+RDFa, or 
anything else. Those are all notations for expressing entity relations, 
that's ultimately based on the same underlying system of logic 
(First-order Logic to be precise).

This is always about entities and the different ways they are associated 
(related). The Web has always been about actually dealing with this 
issue via a computer network abstraction layer [4].

> Most Web Developers do not easily fall into any of the 3 categories
> above. This is something that is typically lost on most Semantic Web
> folks. So, the question becomes: What are the set of technologies that
> we could use that are most familiar to Web developers that also provide
> the benefits of the Linked Data stack?
> That's why we're using JSON-LD.

That isn't why I supported JSON-LD.

I supported JSON-LD so that we can stop these distracting debates, since 
the endgame is unchanged i.e., all procedural and OO languages have 
limited value relative to natural language. That's why we waste billions 
of dollars every year on crappy IT projects. We aren't communicating 
with computers the way we communicate with ourselves.

Being able to invoke computer operations using the vocabulary of 3 year 
old would equate to wonderment for mankind, so we should stop being 
distracted by the wrong issues.

>> We're currently working on a proposal such that domains that are not
>> email providers may still vouch for an email address. So, for
>> example, you could still login to a website using "melvin@gmail.com
>> <mailto:melvin@gmail.com>", but your personal website
>> "http://melvincarvalho.com/" could still vouch for the email
>> address.
>> Great.
>> So what about content addressable identifiers like bitcoin:
>> addresses?
> Yep, should also work just fine.
>> At this point I'm unsure DHT's give you anything the web doesnt!
>> I'm convinced that decentralized systems can be built using the web,
>> tho I've yet to prove it!
> One of the Web's fundamental flaws is that the protocols it uses, like
> DNS, HTTP and TLS, lead to centralization as a byproduct of its design.
> It's the reason we have things like Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp,
> Google Search, etc.

The fact that the World Wide Web is an HTTP based abstraction atop the 
Internet doesn't mean that's all there is to URIs. The real magic lies 
in URIs which provide us with a global-scale ability to denote things 
(entities, entity types, relation types), construct statements about how 
entities are related, and draw inference from entity relationship role 
semantics. This is what we do everyday, when we communicate. It's what 
we are doing right now, using the English natural language notation.

> Things like Telehash and Kademlia tend to foster more decentralization
> than the Web because no player on the network has "special privileges"
> (like the root CAs, core network routers, etc.).

Good for them, as long as they have de-referencable URIs, of some kind, 
which they must have to function.
> You could argue that any decentralized system can be built using the Web
> just like any program can be written as long as you have a Turing
> complete language. Just because you could re-implement the Web using
> Fortran doesn't mean that you'd want to. Specialization is a good thing. :)

You lost me there.

FWIW -- handles and hashtags [5] have already created a vehicle to mass 
construction and dispatch of triples across the Web, by the very same 
Web 2.0 players that have echoed many of the sentiments you repeat in 
this post re., "web developers" and the "simply simple" doctrine. 
Everyone has been publishing triples on the Web since its inception. All 
that's changing is the semantic fidelity (resolution so to speak) for 
the relationships expressed by these triples.


[1] http://www.jfsowa.com/pubs/rolelog.pdf -- Role of Logic and Ontology 
in Language and Reasoning
-- Class Equivalence Reasoning re., FOAF and Schema.org
[3] http://www.csc.lsu.edu/~chen/pdf/Egyptian.pdf -- Language
-- World Wide Web 25 Year Later (covers abstraction and how the Web is 
about an elegant solution to a complex challenge: getting mankind to 
collaborate, globally)
[5] http://selnd.com/1eHyRex -- Linked Open Data Cloud and the Future of 

> -- manu



Kingsley Idehen	
Founder & CEO
OpenLink Software
Company Web: http://www.openlinksw.com
Personal Weblog: http://www.openlinksw.com/blog/~kidehen
Twitter Profile: https://twitter.com/kidehen
Google+ Profile: https://plus.google.com/+KingsleyIdehen/about
LinkedIn Profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/kidehen

Received on Friday, 14 March 2014 03:37:55 UTC

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.4.0 : Friday, 17 January 2020 19:07:28 UTC