Re: Globalizing URIs

Karen R. Sollins (sollins@lcs.mit.edu)
Tue, 15 Aug 1995 13:00:28 -0400


Date: Tue, 15 Aug 1995 13:00:28 -0400
Message-Id: <199508151700.NAA07155@lysithea.lcs.mit.edu>
From: "Karen R. Sollins" <sollins@lcs.mit.edu>
To: conklin@info.cren.net
Cc: J.P.Knight@lut.ac.uk, mduerst@ifi.unizh.ch, uri@bunyip.com
In-Reply-To: <199508120010.UAA28862@info.cren.net> (conklin@info.cren.net)
Subject: Re: Globalizing URIs

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   Date: Fri, 11 Aug 1995 20:12:55 +0100
   From: conklin@info.cren.net (Jim Conklin)
   Cc: uri@bunyip.com
   Sender: owner-uri@bunyip.com
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   At  9:32 PM 8/11/95 +0100, Jon Knight wrote:
   >OK, so URLs as currently defined let you use words which unwitting
   >service providers and users can inadvertantly attach semantic meanings
   >in languages that can be expressed in ASCII.

     I respectfully disagree.  URL's worked and were accepted and used, and
   people remember them (yes, REMEMBER them!) precisely BECAUSE people very
   INTENTIONALLY attach semantic names to them.  This, of course, is the point
   Roy made, just recouched a bit.

   Jim



Jim,

I'm afraid I disagree with you at least partially.  Yes, URLs were
accepted and used.  But I don't consider them terribly successful.
First, because they do often include semantics, we expect certain URLs
to work.  But, we get too many surprises.  For example, www.mit.edu
was grabbed by a student computing organization early on, so now MIT
uses web.mit.edu, much to many people's confusion.  Because it is a
single namespace and we are using a great deal of abbreviation to make
it compact, there is contention and disagreement over allocation of
names.  That's the first problem.

The second problem, which I am finding more and more often, is a
reconfirmation that URLs are the wrong thing to be embedding in other
documents.  Because URLs contain "location" information, they become
invalid.  Therefore, when I go to a page and try to follow a link, or
memorize what I believe is the "right" URL for something, but the
destination has moved, I'm stuck.  This happens to me more and more
frequently (even using search tools, since I guess at least some of
them don't update their indices very frequently.)  This makes the web
less and less useful to me, and if I get frustrated with it (but at
least understand what is going on and have some motivation and
commitment to improving the situation), think how less involved people
will react.  Even now, I try to avoid having to try to find things on
the Web - it's mostly a waste of my time (as was reconfirmed to me
this morning).

URLs worked before when the world was small and we could keep track of
them.  As it grows and evolves, they become less and less useful as
user-friendly or long-lived names.  So, I'm afraid I must disagree
with you, based on personal experience as well as philosophy.

			Karen