W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > uri@w3.org > September 2001

Re: Excess URI schemes considered harmful

From: Dan Connolly <connolly@w3.org>
Date: Tue, 25 Sep 2001 17:41:00 -0500
Message-ID: <3BB107FC.2A7B8371@w3.org>
To: Graham Klyne <GK@ninebynine.org>
CC: Mark Baker <distobj@acm.org>, uri@w3.org
Graham Klyne wrote:
> 
> At 04:01 PM 9/25/01 -0400, Mark Baker wrote:
> > > IMHO, urn:ietf:params:media-type:text-plain
> > >
> > > is much better....
> >
> >But what if the IETF cedes control of this registry to some other
> >body?  Then that URN would break too.  How is this any different
> >than with an URL?
> 
> I know I'm out of step with some W3C received wisdom on this, but I believe
> the difference is this:  the urn: form carries a clear and unmistakable
> indication that this name is *intended* to be persistent and permanent,
> usable as a basis for information exchange at any arbitrary time in the future.
> 
> I understand the philosophy of "cool URIs don't change", and the fact that
> stability is a social problem rather than a technical problem.  I think
> that having a form of name that carries a clear signal of intent, and whose
> allocation is subject to some degree of consensus process, is a helpful
> element in cementing the social protocols needed to ensure that identifier
> persistence is actually achieved.

I suggest that putting the year-of-issue in a URI
(e.g. http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml) carries
this signal more effectively than putting urn: at the beginning.

Hmm... the idea of having names issued by consensus is
an interesting one. Surely we could do that inside http
space, without deploying any new URI schemes, no?

> Finally, I'll note that I have tried to create a portion of stable URI
> space for persistent identifiers within my company's http: space.  See
> http://id.mimesweeper.com/.  So far, I've sort-of succeeded, but I've no
> great confidence that the identifier persistence will be locked in for all
> time.  Within many company organizations, control of the http: URI space is
> with the web masters, who themselves are part of the product marketing
> group.  The URIs are perceived as simply a way to get to the web pages, and
> are subject to change every time the web site is re-organized or the
> product marketing strategy is reviewed.  In general, these people just
> don't care that a stable URI is a fundamental element of web architecture,
> and will have little patience for some apparently arbitrary rule that
> impedes them from doing their job.

Hmm... I wonder how these marketing people
would feel if the IT part of the company
changed all their phone numbers after they put them at the
bottom of a big press release.

404s hurt in tel: space just as much, if not more, than
404s in http: space.

This "apparently arbitrary" rule is not arbitrary. That
it is a fundamental element of web architecture is a reflection
of the fact that it matters in real life to real people
who spend real money.


-- 
Dan Connolly, W3C http://www.w3.org/People/Connolly/
Received on Tuesday, 25 September 2001 18:42:05 UTC

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