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Re: Named graphs etc

From: Pat Hayes <phayes@ihmc.us>
Date: Thu, 11 Mar 2004 11:39:59 -0600
Message-Id: <p06001f4ebc764eea3afd@[]>
To: Patrick Stickler <patrick.stickler@nokia.com>
Cc: <www-archive@w3.org>, "ext Jeremy Carroll" <jjc@hplb.hpl.hp.com>, "ext Pat Hayes" <phayes@ihmc.us>, Patrick Stickler <patrick.stickler@nokia.com>, "ext Chris Bizer" <chris@bizer.de>

>On Mar 10, 2004, at 15:09, ext Chris Bizer wrote:


>>>Hmmm....  couldn't one view the insertion of graph qualification
>>>statements specifying assertion and authentication as being
>>>equivalent to a "speech act", the graph being the utterance?
>>Also hmmm ... and I think we should forward this question to Pat.

See earlier message on 'web acts'. It does seem odd to me to say that 
a graph can perform an act such as asserting. Suppose a graph 
slanders me: can I sue the graph for damages? We have to get genuine 
agents into the picture somehow.

>>1. If "assertion = speech act", the assertion *has* to take place in a
>>"context" for example a point in time.
>>Thus it is tempting to conclude that a graph is asserted, if it (1)
>>describes itself
>I accept this.
>>or (2) is described somewhere else with the properties
>>dc:author and dc:date.
>I don't accept this.
>This latter case is similar to one person saying what someone else
>said -- i.e. hearsay. All that the first person could assert is
>that the "speech act" occured and what its content was, but
>can't assert the content of that speech act.

No, it can. That is, it can assert ANY content. A says: "Im just 
wanting to consider this as hypothetical: consider ...." Now, B can 
agree with A (that ... is hypothetical) or, B can say "I think that 
.... is true." No problem, B hasn't said that A said that .... is 

>Restraining the boostrapping machinery to each graph prevents
>folks from speaking on behalf of others.

You don't speak on behalf of others by using their words to make an 
assertion that they havn't made. If you SAY that they have made an 
assertion that they havn't in fact made, or if you pretend to be 
them, then you are lying: and we need to be able to check up on liars 
and detect the lies quickly and reliably.

>>2. Publishing an unasserted graph on the Web wouldn't be a speech act.
>It wouldn't necessarily be.
>If no explicit statement is made within the graph that the graph
>is asserted, then it is not (necessarily) a speech act.
>I.e. it is the act of using particular machinery to explicitly
>indicate that a graph is asserted that constitutes the speech
>If it were explicitly stated in the graph that the graph was
>*not* asserted, then it would simply be a document (quoted
>Some agent may, for whatever reason, still wish to treat those
>statements as asserted, but that is then contrary to the explicitly
>expressed intended purpose of those statements by the publisher
>of the graph (e.g. taking it out of context, etc.).
>Similar to my saying: "The following is false: 'sugar always tastes
>bitter'" and you treating that as if I has actually asserted
>that "sugar always tastes bitter".

I bet what will happen is this (whatever we say about it :-) . There 
will be a way to explicitly non-assert, like quoting; and there will 
be a way to be absolutely and iron-clad clear about asserting and who 
is doing the asserting, checkable by secure signatures.  And then 
there will be cheap-and-cheerful publication which is not marked in 
any way in particular but is widely accepted for many useful purposes 
as being asserted as a kind of happy default that enables smart 
search engines, etc., to get their stuff done when no serious $$ 
depends on the result. What we need to do is to suggest how to do the 
former without being so tight-assed that we try to legislate the 
latter out of existence, because that would be like ordering the tide 
to stop rising. I think that a way forward is to leave the status quo 
to do the cheap-and-cheerful, but adding a way to be more secure in 
the former style when required. To do that I think we need a way to 
provide an external-to-RDF way to ultimately warrant the checkable 
assertion forms, since that way of proceeding will almost certainly 
require tort-law applicable ways of tracing the legal agents who are 
making the iron-clad assertions (promises, contracts, etc.). And once 
we have that, there is no harm in allowing 'external' assertion of 
content, and quite a lot of utility in allowing it.

>In essence, a graph explicitly marked as unasserted is a quoting

Right. We could maybe do that, as Mark suggests, just by using the 
XML media type (though that seems a bit kludgey to me.)

>A graph with no explicit marking for assertion is simply an
>ambiguous "utterance" which may or may not reflect the asserted
>beliefs of the source.

but which is good enough for many purposes, right? Particularly if 
99% of the RDF on the planet is deployed this way with the general 
understanding that it is intended to be read and used.

>A graph with explicit marking for assertion equates to an
>utterance within a context of "I assert/swear/affirm/believe/...
>that ...", which can serve as the basis for accountability
>(and of course, trust).

Right, but only if the thing doing the swearing and affirming is 
something a bit more solid than a graph. It has to be the kind of 
thing that a court can put a restraining order on, or you or I can 


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Received on Thursday, 11 March 2004 12:40:02 UTC

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