RE: About httpRange-14

It's interesting to see this discussion surface yet again. It would seem that
the 303-solution has neither dispelled anxieties nor quelled the debate.

I would like to point out (once again [1]) that the cause of the problem is the
sleight-of-hand that took place when the concept of resource was quietly
redefined to mean "anything that has identity" (i.e. anything whatsoever). This
served to blur the essential ontological distinction on the Web between
(network-retrievable) information resources and "resources in general".

The HTTP URI is fundamentally an addressing mechanism, and it is fine to use it
as an identifier for the thing it addresses. However, most of the things we want
to address are NOT network-retrievable and don't have an address. That doesn't
mean we can't use HTTP URIs to address arbitrary subjects, but it does mean that
the mechanism has to work differently for direct and indirect identification.

That's why Topic Maps provides two URI-based mechanisms: subject locators for
direct addressing, and subject identifiers for indirect addressing. RDF needs
the same. The 303-kludge (I'm sorry, but what else can I call it?) does not work
for humans, neither those that assign identifiers nor those that need to
interpret them; and it only works for machines if you dereference every
identifier before deciding what to do with it, and that simply doesn't scale.


Curing the Web's Identity Crisis:

Towards the Semantic Superhighway:

Conference Chair, Topic Maps 2008
Oslo, April 2-4 2008

| -----Original Message-----
| From: [] On Behalf Of Mike
| Schinkel
| Sent: 18 December 2007 21:58
| To:;
| Subject: About httpRange-14
| Noah:
| I just spent some time re-reading the long series of email discussions about
| httpRange-14 [1].
| It seems they addressed at length what a URI points to, but did not address
| what does point to a thing when one wants to be able to get an associate
| representation about that thing.
| Further it seemed to me that most of the members in the discussion
| reasonably saw the need for the HTTP URL to identify a thing and were okay
| with some ambiguity, but that TimBL was most adamant that it behave certain
| ways in order that it be consistent with his vision for RDF. Would you
| concur or disagree?
| BTW, my takeaway from the results of that discussion (thus far) is that
| things might have been much different had RDF not been a central focus of
| TimBL at that time. That seems to me to be a shame considering how RDF is
| still only used on the periphery of the web and certainly not as part of the
| mainstream web.  And IMO, RDF will probably never make the mainstream
| because it requires people to be too concise, and people in general are not
| good at being concise (witness the percentage of HTML files on the web that
| validate...)
| --
| -Mike Schinkel
| [1]

Received on Thursday, 20 December 2007 13:56:44 UTC