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RE: "On the Web" vs "On the Semantic Web"

From: Bullard, Claude L (Len) <clbullar@ingr.com>
Date: Fri, 25 Jul 2003 14:01:02 -0500
Message-ID: <15725CF6AFE2F34DB8A5B4770B7334EE022DC6A4@hq1.pcmail.ingr.com>
To: "'Norman Walsh'" <Norman.Walsh@Sun.COM>, www-tag@w3.org

Norman writes:

>Is there precisely one universal set of semantics? 

Yes.  The empty set.  Nothing *is* sacred. 
That is the root.  Not new news.

>I don't know if that's a useful point to raise or not, but I am very
>deeply concerned that we appear to have at hand an issue that is
>intractable.

It isn't intractable.  Is it useful? The 
URI is not the representation.  It is a 
syntactically defined string.  It is a label 
if used on the side of a bus; it is an address 
if used in an http resolver.  The bug was to 
have it be an "identifier" because there is no identity 
without identification and that is implemented 
use by use.  It is a URN that can 
be used as a URL.  The only people I see 
who are having problems are not able to 
define identity in terms of assignment 
(systemic identity) so they insist on 
identity being a property of existence and 
when they do that, they have to include 
the empty set.  So?  It hurts nothing but 
their heads.  Software keeps chugging 
because it doesn't philosophize about 0.

>Some folks hold one world view in their heads and argue that the web
>works and nothing about their model interferes with their ability to
>write software that gets useful work done.

>Other folks hold a different world view in their heads and argue that
>things are fundamentally ambiguous in ways that are disastrous and
>seriously hampers their ability to write software that gets useful
>work done.

>For the record, I find myself most often in sympathy with the former
>group. But I'm using semantic web technologies to get useful work
>done, so I must be confused about something.

You keep saying it: 'using'.  It's in the 
way that you use it.  That is a purely 
system based definition.  There is no 
confusion.  There are different and sometimes 
overlapping systems using the same labels. 
They will not reliably provide the same 
results because they aren't the same use.  

It is the responsibility of 
the designer of the code that uses the 
URI to determine and ensure that it 
does something useful.  The web architecture 
provides no philosophical quarrel to the 
solution wherein nothing is a member of 
everything (0 to 1).  That's a notation 
requirement.  The denotating system must 
decide how many things can exist between 
0 and 1.  If the semantic web model 
cannot handle range assignments, it is 
deeply flawed and in a very silly way 
but reading Jonathan's responses, I don't 
think it is.  

I think the web architecture 
document authors haven't relaxed and said, 

"A URI means what you say it means and that is 
proved by the use you make of it.  If your 
use conflicts with another use, you need to 
negotiate or sue."  This doesn't violate REST. 
It is at the very heart of REST.

because it can never ever provably mean one and only 
one thing if there are multiple conflicting uses.  
It can only be assigned and 
maintained.  End of story.  Full stop. 
No more action.  Roll credits.

We really really should have stuck with 
PUBLIC and SYSTEM identifiers.  I never 
encountered the nuttiness with those 
that URIs seem to provoke.

len


From: Norman Walsh [mailto:Norman.Walsh@Sun.COM]
Received on Friday, 25 July 2003 15:01:11 UTC

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