W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-tag@w3.org > July 2003

RE: resources and URIs

From: John Black <JohnBlack@deltek.com>
Date: Thu, 17 Jul 2003 13:47:09 -0400
Message-ID: <D3C8F903E7CC024C9DA6D900A60725D9025F33E9@DLTKVMX1.ads.deltek.com>
To: "Tim Berners-Lee" <timbl@w3.org>, "pat hayes" <phayes@ihmc.us>
Cc: <www-tag@w3.org>, "Pat Hayes" <phayes@ai.uwf.edu>



On Tuesday, Jul 15, 2003, at 19:20 US/Eastern, pat hayes wrote: 

> "Objects in the networked information system called resources are identified by Uniform Resource > Identifiers ( URIs ). " 
>
> and later the document says: 
>
> "URIs identify resources.

I was hoping that URI's could be used to "identify" in the strong sense of that word.  Lets consider a person resource.  In order to be "on the web", I want my URI to act like a user name.  However, the URI http://kashori.com/JohnBlack cannot alone be said to identify me.  But lets turn this around.  If I am *acting* "on the web", say on my bank account, or on my contacts list, or any of the other information resources that I keep on the web, then it is critical that something - a password store, a fingerprint reader, a blood-pricking DNA analyzer, or a retinal scan be performed such that the actions requested by or on behalf of my user name URI are associated with an individual.  This semantic meaning of the URI requires a promise by an irrefutable authority that we trust, that the agent behind, represented, identified by, dereferenced, etc. is that very individual whose fingerprints look exactly so, whose DNA has just this pattern, and so on.  For this to work the authority
  must somehow be on the web also.

In these cases we would demand that that URI identify an individual resource.  When an such an agent is acting "on the web" or "on the semantic web" for that matter, by making changes to it in the name of that individual, we demand that URI identify him and only him.

Of course, these fingerprint images, retinal scans, DNA sequences can themselves be represented on the web.  Then we can assert them about the URI:

<rdf:Description
    rdf:about="http://kashori.com/JohnBlack"
        <id:fingerprints>http://kashori.com/fingerprintImages/JohnBlack.jpg<id:fingerprints>
        <id:dnaSequence>http://kashori.com/dnaSequences/JohnBlack.dna<id:dnaSequence>
</rdf:Description>

In cognitive science, as John Sowa pointed out in his book on Conceptual Structures, the identity of individuals is formed by perceptual mechanisms, not by conceptual ones.  Maybe in the future, the act of dereferencing a URI will cause the perceptual mechanisms of the web to reach out and perform those functions that verify that a URI is in fact identifying an (individual) resource in the world.

John Black
Received on Thursday, 17 July 2003 13:48:30 UTC

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