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Re: HTTP URIs and authority

From: Xiaoshu Wang <wangxiao@musc.edu>
Date: Wed, 24 Oct 2007 00:00:24 +0100
Message-ID: <471E7D08.2030000@musc.edu>
To: Pat Hayes <phayes@ihmc.us>
CC: noah_mendelsohn@us.ibm.com, Alan Ruttenberg <alanruttenberg@gmail.com>, Mikael Nilsson <mikael@nilsson.name>, Richard Cyganiak <richard@cyganiak.de>, W3C-TAG Group WG <www-tag@w3.org>, www-tag-request@w3.org

Pat Hayes wrote:
>> Xiaoshu Wang writes:
>>
>>>  I think you still do.  You own the URI but you don't own Paris.
>>  > What people gets back is your personal "impression" of Paris.
>
> Noah Mendelsohn:
>
>> Yes, if I say that the URI identifies my personal impression of that 
>> city,
>> no if I say that it identifies the city itself.  Of course, with any
>> resource, there is the question of the care I take in implementing its
>> responses on the Web.  Representations can come back with erroneous
>> information for all sorts of reasons, including sloppy coding, faulty
>> hardware, etc.  One of those reasons is that I just wasn't careful in
>> researching the population number that I offered. That doesn't make the
>> URI identify my "impression" of Paris; if I say it identifies the city
>> itself, then it does.
>
> This is a very deep area in philosophy of language. What seems to me 
> to be the central issue is, how do we fix reference? In order for two 
> agents to communicate about referents, there has to be some degree of 
> mutual agreement about the facts. If the two views of the world are 
> too disparate, its impossible to say whether they are talking about 
> the same thing or not. In ordinary language we usually take this for 
> granted much of the time, but there can be cases where it goes wrong.
There are two problems here.  The first one is about the architecture of 
the web.  In this, we needs to clarify the relationship between what a 
URI identifies and the representation that you get back by dereference 
that URI.  We need to make it clear that what you get back is just 
message about the resource but not the resource itself.

The second point that you raised i.e., if we can still share something 
about the two disparate views of the same resource. This is the issue of 
ontology engineering.  Any term or URI has two level of meanings.  One 
is extensional.  Just like Rose being rose, Paris being Paris.  The 
second level is the intensional meaning, which is reached by relating 
one thing to another. The extensional meaning is mostly established by 
social agreement.  The intensional meaning is reached through 
ontological constructs, such as in RDF and OWL.  I had propose the idea 
called ontology normalization.  In other words, ontology should be 
classified in a few categories (see 
http://www.charlestoncore.org/ont/2005/08/o3.html) The most basic form 
is termed as Vocabulary, which contains no *intensional meaning* at 
all.  Then you develop various small concrete ontology to put in 
intensional meanings.  Hence, a URI can be shared on two different 
levels.  For evolutionary change, you just extend an concrete ontology 
but for revolutionary change, i.e., an inconsistent view, you build your 
own concrete ontology but you can still reuse the URI.

But I think this second issue is not the concern of web architecture, 
which should deal with how URI should be grounded to a communication 
protocol, like HTTP.

Regard,

Xiaoshu
Received on Tuesday, 23 October 2007 23:01:16 UTC

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