W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-rdf-interest@w3.org > October 2000

Re: (taxonomy) use and abuse of the URI

From: Aaron Swartz <aswartz@swartzfam.com>
Date: Sun, 15 Oct 2000 21:24:07 -0500
To: Seth Russell <seth@robustai.net>
CC: rdf <www-rdf-interest@w3.org>
Message-ID: <B60FD0F7.1AF11%aswartz@swartzfam.com>
Oops, because of the way my email filtering is set up, I didn't see this
message until just now (because you CCed rdf-interest). Anyway, I'd like to
share this message with the RDF-interest folks, and I'd like to hear whether
this resolves your problems, Seth.

<q cite="http://www.egroups.com/message/rss-dev/870">
Ken MacLeod ken@b... wrote:

> Clarify please: we *want* multiple URIs for the same thing? (or "want
> to allow ...")

Glad to. The issue we're dealing with is describing items which the Web
isn't traditionally designed to handle (abstract concepts, products, etc.)
and thus don't have a typical URI. It is unlikely that these concepts will
ever have a URI, since it is very difficult to define exactly what we are.

To quote Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations (3rd Edition, p. 32e):

<q>we see a complicated network of similarities overlapping and
cris-crossing: sometimes overall similarities; sometimes similarities of

67. I can think of no better expression to characterize these resemblances
than "family resemblances"; for the various resemblances between members of
a family: build, features, colour of eyes, gait, temperament, etc. etc.
overlap and cris-cross in the same way.</q>

In the same way, we have many URIs, each of which describes a particular
person or organization's view of a concept. All these URLs are different,
and refer to slightly different items, but have a relationship -- a family
resemblance -- as Wittgenstein says.

Without a GOD.org, I doubt it can be any other way. We (and RDF processors)
have to learn to deal with this. Headline Viewer has already run into this
problem with its aliases file -- it lists items (RSS files, in particular)
which each have the same goal (trying to describe a certain site) but can
each do it in a slightly different way, or a slightly different URL. These
are different things, but they share a family resemblance: they attempt to
do the same thing.

I assure you more of these such files will spring up. (Disclosure: I hope to
make get.theinfo.org a source for such things.) They will provide valuable
links between similar items, or items that attempt the same thing. They will
help, but are not a perfect solution.

I believe, this is just something we'll need to learn to live with.</q>

RDF interest folks -- I'd love to hear your thoughts about this important
issue. For some background, read:


and related messages.


        Aaron Swartz         |"This information is top security.
<http://swartzfam.com/aaron/>|     When you have read it, destroy yourself."
  <http://www.theinfo.org/>  |             - Marshall McLuhan            
Received on Sunday, 15 October 2000 22:25:51 UTC

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