W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-rdf-interest@w3.org > October 2003

Re: Announcement: The "info" URI Scheme

From: Garret Wilson <garret@globalmentor.com>
Date: Thu, 02 Oct 2003 08:56:38 -0700
Message-ID: <3F7C4AB6.8020709@globalmentor.com>
To: Patrick Stickler <patrick.stickler@nokia.com>
Cc: "ext Hammond, Tony (ELSLON)" <T.Hammond@elsevier.com>, www-rdf-interest@w3.org, uri@w3.org

Patrick Stickler wrote:
> But when all one has is a single URI, how do you find out *where*
> authoritative descriptive metadata resides, if that URI is not
> meaningful to HTTP? That's the problem. If all you have is
> uri:foo:blargh how do you know where to go for information about
> the thing denoted by that URI, and how do you know that the information
> you find is authoritative? And even if you manage to work out a
> solution, will that solution scale globally?

Fine---there needs to be a standard solution for finding out "where 
authoritative descriptive metadata resides." We can all agree that this 
is a problem. So?

"Everything HTTP" is one answer that has the side-effect of confusing 
the resource with its metadata. There are surely thousands of other 
answers. Here are a few off the top of my head. (I'm not proposing 
them---I'm just pointing out that there are thousands of other answers 
that don't have the same semantic deficiencies.)

1. The uri+meta: scheme, e.g. 
uri+meta:person:poets:shakespeare?meta=http://shakespeare.org/bard.rdf . 
(This would best be done with a URI comparison algorithm that ignored 
the ?meta part.)

2. The rdf:baseMetadataURI attribute, e.g. 

3. The new protocal that replaces HTTP (yes, there will be one, just as 
sure as there will be a syntax that replaces XML) might reserve an 
entire branch of its URI tree for just this problem, e.g. 
ytp://metadata/lookup?person:poets:shakespeare . Maybe YTP will have its 
own system of DNS-like tables that route requests to this tree to a 
metadata page on the server of the owner of the object.

4. Heck, maybe the W3C or some other standard body could even do the 
same thing with HTTP, reserving a branch and saying that, "If you see an 
identifier in a specific scheme, use http://metadata.net/... to get its 
metadata." Oh, wait, the DOI/handle.net people are already doing that.

If we use HTTP for everything, what happens when HTTP is replaced by the 
next protocol? The likely answer would be, "well, we'll just map all 
those HTTP requests to the new YTP URI tree in some standard way." Good 
answer---but why can't we do the same thing now with other URI schemes 
that doesn't pretend to indicate a retrieval method, be it info: or 

Received on Thursday, 2 October 2003 11:56:56 UTC

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