W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > semantic-web@w3.org > February 2009

RE: live meaning and dead languages

From: Jeremy Carroll <jeremy@topquadrant.com>
Date: Mon, 9 Feb 2009 11:17:39 -0800
To: "'Hugh Glaser'" <hg@ecs.soton.ac.uk>, "'Charles Dylan Shearer'" <dshearer@nekonya.info>
Cc: "'Tim Berners-Lee'" <timbl@w3.org>, <semantic-web@w3.org>
Message-ID: <002401c98aeb$13691050$3a3b30f0$@com>

> I was not intending to deal with words at all - sorry if I misled.
> I was always talking about the URI http://dbpedia.org/resource/Hacker.
> To start with this may be agreed to be the concept "a person who programs
> as
> a hobby" (we won't go into how that agreement was reached).
> If this URI then gets used in a context where it is no longer the concept
> "a
> person who programs as a hobby", as it would have in the RDF metadata for
> the films (perhaps), where does that leave the URI?
> Does the dbpedia RDF provider decide to conform to the changed meaning (as
> a
> dictionary might), or not?
> Clearly they have a choice.
> If they have a choice, then it is an interesting problem for us to study.
> A) Change - dbpedia probably would, because it aims to be like a
> dictionary.
> B) Not change - I am annoyed I have lost the original meaning of the
> concept, and continue to use it in the RDF versions of my lecture notes,
> without acknowledging (ie referring to) the new meaning (not really, but
> could be, and is true of the use of the word "engineer" by the professional
> bodies in the UK).
> In the end, I don't even "own" the URIs I mint, even if I own the domain.
> These are interesting socio-technical issues, I think.

Ah, that's much more comprehensible.
I had misunderstood your position by your earlier post.

Yes - this is precisely the point in which SW terms is like NL (natural language) words - we can make one up - but we don't own it. Everyone owns it, and if other people start using it differently there's not a lot one can do about it. (See social meaning discussion, referenced in my last, or last but one post in this thread).

To give an example close to by heart. I was part of the RDF Core WG. We had at least temporary care of the RDF, RDFS vocabulary, including rdf:XMLLiteral (which I invented: IIRC), rdfs:Literal, and rdfs:label.

The design unambiguously allows for XML literal labels for resources.
But try using one, with XHTML 1.0 tags: it won't work (in the practical sense of it will not be displayed correctly in your favorite tool). Thus the practical semantics of the community differs from the intended semantics. (e.g. <em>Emphasized Label</em> when all the namespaces and the technical details are correct, is meant to be an emphasized label ..., instead it probably means a label consisting of that string of characters, with a namespace decl thrown in)

Now: some people would argue that this is bugs in the implementation; some would argue it's bugs with the spec. I just shrug my shoulders and say "That's life"; and when I think a bit harder, I smile as well. (That's life, and life is good).


Received on Monday, 9 February 2009 19:18:27 UTC

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