Re: Globalizing URIs

Martin J Duerst (
Fri, 11 Aug 1995 14:35:50 +0200 (MET DST)

Message-Id: <>
Subject: Re: Globalizing URIs
To: (Dirk.vanGulik)
Date: Fri, 11 Aug 1995 14:35:50 +0200 (MET DST)
In-Reply-To: <9508111008.AA02658@> from "Dirk.vanGulik" at Aug 11, 95 12:08:17 pm
From: Martin J Duerst <>

>A minor aside:
>There seems to be quite some concern as wether URI's ought
>to be human readble, type-able, visable, etc.
>Based on medium sized survey, see below, I would suggest that we do
>not focus too much on human readdable URLs, but we do insist
>that URLs can be transfered from person to person and are
>easy to type in. People seem to regard them as opague
>strings, just like phone numbers.
>They know how to enter them, but they cannot be bothered
>by them any further.

Many thanks for the data, which is very interesting.
But I really see problems with the conclusions you draw.
In particular:

>Given a URL, tell us where it comes
>  from	  country/edu/gov domain correct       23%
>	  protocol understanding               21% 
>	  hostname understanding               48%
>          file/path/script understanding       22%

If we assume a hypothetical URL

Then as given above, it means that 48% of the people
were able to tell that "" was the name
of the host where the information resided. And 22%
were able to tell that /newproducts/intro.html was
the path and file name of the document.
This is a TECHNICAL understanding, and to be able
to decide whether people are "bothered any further",
we would have to ask different questions, along the line:
Did you realize that there is a correspondence between
	the characters 'xanadu' in the URL and the fact that the
	document was about a company with name 'Xanadu'?
Did it help you when taking a notice of this URL on paper
	that there was a correspondence between characters
	such as 'xanadu' and 'newproducts' and the fact that
	your aquaintance that gave you the URL mentionned that
	it was about some great 'new products' by a company
	called 'Xanadu'?
Did you notice that your URL, or the URL of your company,
	contains (between some weird characters, maybe),
	characters that you clearly can associate with the name
	of your company or some of its parts or with your name?
	Do you think this helps you remember the URL, and helps
	other poeple understand what it could point to?
For your company and your documents, would you try to make
	URLs look like arbitrary telephone numbers, or would you
	rather try to make them as self-speaking as possible, if
	you could, and would you assume that others would try
	to do the same, or not?

I hope I don't have to tell you how I expect these questions
to be answered. There is quite a difference between technical
understanding of what part of the URL is what, and the
(maybe implicit) understanding of the correspondences between
character sequences in the URL and names in the real world.

Regards,	Martin.