RE: live meaning and dead languages

Tim's example about wgs84:lat seems pretty solid.

But it's not that there won't be change ... but what sort of change might we expect?

The vocab is a "Basic Geo (WGS84 lat/long) Vocabulary" which does not address "issues covered in the professional GIS world" [1].

So, as this is useful, we may expect next gen geo loc vocabs that address more issues.

When this happens, in some sense the practical utility and practical meaning of the old vocabulary will be modified by the new vocabulary. E.g. a simple change might be that the old vocabulary becomes archaic. So that when you see the old vocab as well as knowing the location of the resource, you also know that either the data is old, or the system that generated the data is old, or is deliberately retro.

This is not part of the intended meaning of the geo loc vocab, but could become part of its actual meaning.

For example, a mapping application, may take semantic web information, and find triples that help identify location. It then shows icons on a map, (like many current web applications do).

If in practice is wgs84:lat has been superseded then they may well be mileage in only showing stuff in the older system if the user explicitly requests it, because most people, most of the time, are only really interested in up-to-date and actively maintained information.

This could quite easily evolve into wgs84 being a dead vocabulary, no longer understood.


And on authoritative definition ...

Tim Berners-Lee: 
> The Semantic Web is a system we design, 

Michael Schneider 
> Hopefully not! :)

Tim Berners-Lee: 
> not one we observe from the
> sidelines as we do with Latin, say, or English.  

I found I agree with Tim about us designing SW, but not that we merely observe English.
It seems to me that we actively engage with languages that we speak to use them to create the world.

The potential differences are to do with the possibility of authoritative definition.

One view of definitions on SemWeb are that you can look up the DNS and find the owner of a URL and they get to say what that URL means. This was the essence of the social meaning part of earlier RDF working drafts that failed to find consensus [2].

I understand David Booth's efforts with URI Declarations are intended to address some of the weaknesses of the earlier designs.

In the area of natural language the Académie française is one of the few bodies that aspires to prescriptive power (I think), rather than merely descriptive.


[2] first entry pfps-14 under

Received on Monday, 9 February 2009 03:40:42 UTC