W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-tag@w3.org > July 2002

Re: TB16 Re: Comments on arch doc draft

From: Jonathan Borden <jonathan@openhealth.org>
Date: Wed, 3 Jul 2002 13:27:44 -0400
Message-ID: <026d01c222b6$f5928e10$0a2e249b@nemc.org>
To: "Joshua Allen" <joshuaa@microsoft.com>, "WWW TAG" <www-tag@w3.org>

Joshua Allen wrote:
> > > of an abstract resource. Similarly, a namespace is an abstract
> > > resource, and thus, if a URL is used for the namespace name,
> > > having it resolve to anything is IMO a bug, just as for any
> > > abstract resource.
> >
> > This argument is a wonderful example for which the phrase "begging the
> > question" is properly applied. Such perfectly circular examples are
> not
> No, it is another good explanation of why many people disdain the use of
> http: URLs as namespace names.  Patrick is pointing out that gratuitous
> overloading of URL schemes is poison to the wells.

Well, clearly there are differences of opinion here, and I believe that a
real web architectural principle is being discussed (actually I consider
this the single most important web architectural principle) so at the risk
of continuing this back and forth more times than is otherwise appropriate

> There are certain people (I assume yourself included?) who feel that
> URIs identify *nothing*, unless they are accompanied with ontology
> information; and say that therefore it is smart to use http: URLs to
> identify cars and butterflies, since "lots of people know how to
> dereference http: URLs".

close enough.

> But if we buy this specious logic, then we might as well reduce the
> English language to one word.  Nobody can deny that "bad" can mean
> "good", if caveated with "bad in the Michael Jackson sense" -- anything
> can mean anything else if decorated with enough caveats.  If "bad" can
> mean "good", why not let "bad" mean "car", and "butterfly" as well?

I don't see how "one word" follows but you have broadly outlined Quine's
argument in his "Two dogmas of empiricism", so I am familiar with it - and
reference Quine only to point out that these issues have been under
discussion for far longer than computers themselves have been around.

The archetectural principle of the Web is that, roughly, the spelling, or
what characters that are used to represent the word, e.g. "bad" or
"butterfly" are not important because we can obtain a _definition_ of the
word by _dereferencing_ it.

> Most people (including me) think that http: scheme URIs should be used
> for WEB PAGES.  Even Paul Prescod would agree that http: scheme URIs
> should be used exclusively for resources which are interacted with
> through the standard HTTP verbs.

What do you mean "URIs should be used for WEB PAGES"? Do you mean that when
you dereference a URI you should get a Web page back? The point is that a
URI can easily be used to represent a "car" just as the word "car" can be
used to represent a car. Of course neither are _actually_ a car. And when
you type the characters {'c', 'a', 'r'} into an online dictionary, or type
the word, just for you Joshua :-)) into MS Encarta, you might get back a
piece of text that describes the word "car", and/or a picture of a "car".
This is a description or representation of the word "car", but certainly
neither _is actually_ a car ... if this is so obvious, what is the
difficulty in having _any_ URI refer to the concept of a "car", and yield a
description or representation when dereferenced?

> I'm aware that some people disagree, and I'm not trying to marginalize
> that other viewpoint.  But I hope people reading this can see that
> Patrick's argument is simply one side to a debate that is unlikely to go
> away, and certainly wouldn't be dismissed by saying it is "circular".

To be clear: what is circular is stating that all "terms" are "abstract
resources" _hence_ it is an error to dereference.

In order to accept the consequent as true, one must accept the antecedent as
true, but if the antecedent is not true, then nothing is said about the
consequent. "Begging the question" refers to the practice of stating the
antecedent in such a way that it appears to be a truth (see

> Let's just acknowledge that there are (at least) two opposing viewpoints
> WRT the *wisdom* of overloading http: URIs, and resolving the
> fundamental disagreement isn't a necessary step toward getting the
> *namespaces* issue settled.

I've seen nothing to suggest that there is any "overloading" going on.

I consider it a _fundamental principle_ of the Web architecture that names
may be dereferenced.

Received on Wednesday, 3 July 2002 13:33:24 UTC

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.4.0 : Friday, 17 January 2020 22:55:52 UTC