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Re: TB16 Re: Comments on arch doc draft

From: Patrick Stickler <patrick.stickler@nokia.com>
Date: Wed, 03 Jul 2002 20:42:01 +0300
To: ext Paul Prescod <paul@prescod.net>, Joshua Allen <joshuaa@microsoft.com>
CC: Jonathan Borden <jonathan@openhealth.org>, ext Tim Bray <tbray@textuality.com>, WWW TAG <www-tag@w3.org>
Message-ID: <B9491219.17D23%patrick.stickler@nokia.com>

On 2002-07-03 20:05, "ext Paul Prescod" <paul@prescod.net> wrote:

> Joshua Allen wrote:
>> ...
>> 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".
> Let me rephrase that. URIs always identify something. And that something
> can always be *represented* by some documentation, or schema or picture
> or SOMETHING. It isn't that a URI without a dereference is useless. It's
> that it is like software without documentation: inconvenient and
> amateurish.

Documentation about some resource is not an HTTP representation of
that resource.

While I agree that we should be able to describe anything that has
URI denotation, and allow folks to obtain those descriptions easily
and as transparently as possible, documentation/information about
a resource is not the resource itself, and the real crux of this
dilemma is that the present Web architecture makes no clear provision
for information *about* things.

So when we have URIs denoting things that cannot be accessed on
the web -- i.e. no representation is possible because they are
either abstract or non-digital -- then either you get a 404
error, or you get ambiguity, with the same URI denoting both
the resource and something *else* that is put in lieu of the
resource so folks can get *something* when they dereference the

The answer is not to make namespace names dereference to namespace
documents (which even if they did, wouldn't do what they are
supposed to do anyway) but rather to fix the web architecture
to support information about resources and allow folks to both
GET representations of resources as well as GET-META information
about those resources.

Saying namespace names should dereference is a short term hack,
plain and simple, that just avoids or delays facing the real



Patrick Stickler              Phone: +358 50 483 9453
Senior Research Scientist     Fax:   +358 7180 35409
Nokia Research Center         Email: patrick.stickler@nokia.com
Received on Wednesday, 3 July 2002 13:42:00 UTC

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