W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > semantic-web@w3.org > June 2007

Re: What if an URI also is a URL

From: John Black <JohnBlack@kashori.com>
Date: Mon, 11 Jun 2007 13:53:18 -0400
Message-ID: <172c01c7ac51$66a0c850$6601a8c0@KASHORI001>
To: "Tim Berners-Lee" <timbl@w3.org>, "M.David Peterson" <m.david@xmlhacker.com>
Cc: "r.j.koppes" <rikkert@rikkertkoppes.com>, "Yuzhong Qu" <yzqu@seu.edu.cn>, "Sandro Hawke" <sandro@w3.org>, <semantic-web@w3.org>, <swick@w3.org>, <phayes@ihmc.us>

Tim Berners-Lee wrote
> On 2007-06 -09, at 21:22, M. David Peterson wrote:
>> On Sat, 09 Jun 2007 07:13:52 -0600, Tim Berners-Lee <timbl@w3.org>
>> wrote:
>>> No. It cannot identify both a document and a person.
>> Tim: Will all due respect... WTF?
> I am using the 'identify' in the strict sense of 'denote'.
> The semantic web is like a logic language in which URIs are symbols.

Do you believe that by claiming to use the strict, logical sense of the word 
'denote' you thereby cause or require such denotations to be absolute and 
unambiguous? Where do think denotations (or identifications) come from?

In my opinion to denote (or to identify) is a verb, something that is done 
by the users of a symbol. After all, symbols (URI) are not agents, they 
don't wake up and choose to denote this or that. Nor do I think denotation 
is an attribute or property of a symbol, somehow built in or attached when 
the symbol is first conceived. It is more like a dance. I use a symbol to 
denote something expecting you to interpret it to denote the same thing. And 
this coordination, this synchrony of interpretation by both sender and 
receiver, is not always easy. It requires real effort to sustain it. The 
minter of a URI cannot make it happen by declaration, nor can a research 
group or a standards body just decree it so.

The reason this matters is that since it requires this effort to create a 
denotation/identification in the first place, it is far more sensible, to me 
at least, to expect that the final disambiguation of a symbol be 
accomplished in the same way, by coordinated effort of the parties using the 
symbol, not by declaration of the W3C specifications that all URIs be 
absolutely unambiguous. This seems to me to be, as my grandfather used to 
say, a vain task.

John Black

> So, the URI, say denotes your home page.  You can use many things to
> *indirectly* identify yourself,
> such as your email mailbox, home page, FOAF page, passport, and so on.
>> Wait, hold up.  Let me step back.  I have a *DEEP* admiration and
>> respect for you.  Always have.  As such, I have to step back and  realize
>> there is obviously a reason why you have made this  statement.  With this
>> in mind,
>> http://mdavid.name
>> At this URI you will find my personal web page.  That web page  links to
>> my various blogs and projects that exist on the web.
>> Embedded into this page is an OpenID delegation that specifies  "Here's
>> who I am.  Here's where you can go to invoke an  authentication process
>> that, when complete, provides reasonable  assurance that I am the person
>> who maintains control of that  particular URI (mdavid.name) and as such I
>> should be allowed access  to perform the various operations I have been
>> given permission to  perform on your web site."
>> So we have a web page that represents me.
> The word 'representation' is one which gets used with a very specific
> meaning too.
> How about: you are its subject, it is about you. It indirectly  identifies
> you as
> "The person whose openid page is <http://mdavid.name>."
> Written in N3,
> [ openid:page <http://mdavid.name> ]
> This use of terms in specific ways is always a trap of course. In  common
> parlance we say 'Marmaduke, easily identified by his untidy  shock of
> orange hair'
> I hope this clarifies things.
> Tim
Received on Monday, 11 June 2007 17:54:31 UTC

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