W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-rdf-interest@w3.org > April 2002

RE: Explicit Disambiguation Via RDF bNodes, more Process

From: Joshua Allen <joshuaa@microsoft.com>
Date: Fri, 26 Apr 2002 12:04:10 -0700
Message-ID: <4F4182C71C1FDD4BA0937A7EB7B8B4C104F05DA2@red-msg-08.redmond.corp.microsoft.com>
To: "Sandro Hawke" <sandro@w3.org>, <www-rdf-interest@w3.org>
> We want a nearly-universally-shared mapping between 
> identifier strings and things they denote, but we

Exactly.  We have two choices; either use URIs for this, or invent some
other "Universal Thing Identifier" schema.  I hope we can ignore the
third "choice", which is do some ridiculously impossible inference based
on context, probability, and voodoo.  You need some basic level of
confidence in your ability to identify things before getting into the

> obviously don't have it, since we can't agree whether the string
> "http://www.ibm.com/" denotes a way to access information, a
> collection of information, a linguistic expression of some
> information, or a company about which one can get some information!

Well, on the "obviously we don't have it" part, I am not sure I agree.
The thing I agree on is that there are people who argue that an http:
URL is a car.  There are people who say that "bad" means "good".  And
there are even people who think that these two facts prove that words
are meaningless and URIs identify nothing.

URIs are the "words" of the Internet.  Words mean things.  I am quite
happy to use URIs to identify things.

> messier semantic web.  I don't think anything will break, but a large

Actually, it will.  If we allow someone to use "bad" when they mean
"good", and don't require that they disambiguate, then we have no
meaning at all.  We might as well not even use identifiers.

If we do not stick with the meaning that http://www.microsoft.com is a
web page, then we make it possible that someone could make an assertion
about http://www.microsoft.com when they really mean http://www.ibm.com.
If it is up to the listener to disambiguate something as basic as a
noun, then there are no nouns.

It is the responsibility of the speaker to choose the correct nouns.  It
is the option of the listener to reify, if possible, but the main burden
of responsibility lies on the shoulders of the speaker.  Even Umberto
Eco, the father of interpretive semantics, has said "I was starting the
dialectic between the right of the texts and the right of their
interpreters. I have the impression that in the course of the last
decades the right of the interpreters has been overstressed."

I agree with Eco.

> consensus.  It's also not clear this matter much outside of RDF.

It matters for any triples (or as Seth uses, quintuples) that make an
assertion.  It matters less for RDF (IMO), since RDF makes it easy for
the car people to disambiguate responsibly.
Received on Friday, 26 April 2002 15:04:21 UTC

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