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RE: Some TAG review of "Cool URIs for the Semantic Web"

From: Marc de Graauw <marc@marcdegraauw.com>
Date: Wed, 26 Sep 2007 07:52:16 +0200
To: "'Pat Hayes'" <phayes@ihmc.us>
Cc: "'John Cowan'" <cowan@ccil.org>, "'Technical Architecture Group WG'" <www-tag@w3.org>
Message-ID: <28597781C1F940F080B1EB2FBE4B2A09@Marc>

Pat Hayes:

| >Answering
| >"I know nothing about Bilbo" is simply false (assuming you know 
| >something about
| >Tolkien's works).
| It would be misleading in normal conversation, but I routinely apply 
| such a filter to talk of gods, for example. I know nothing about Thor 
| or Yaweh or Allah, because they do not exist.

I think the fact that this is misleading in normal conversation shows that
"about" in ordinary English is not used purely referential, though I'll gladly
concede that in most cases it's used mostly, or even fully, referential.
| But in any case, all this philosophical wrestling is kind of beside 
| the original point at the root of this thread, since that *was* about 
| a referential usage: we were being asked to think about the 
| non-information resources in order to decide what to do about the 
| URIs which are used to refer to them, and that is what I was 
| objecting to. 

I'm not so sure it is beside the point, which was Tim Berners-Lee saying URI's
can identify unicorns, which certainly raises the question whether URI's can
identifuy non-referrring proper names. You wrote (to Dan):

| why do you and the TAG insist on saying "<name> identifies <thing>" 
| instead of the more usual and completely non-puzzling "<name> is a 
| name of <thing>" or even "<name> refers to <thing>" ? 

I'd think "<name> refers to <thing>" is clearly wrong, but maybe I don't
understand your position. Are you saying we should not make up ontologies for
non-referring non-information resources such as Greek gods? If so, why, if not,
what "thing" does "Zeus" refer to? "Identifier" or "identifies" in this context
for me seems just to say "a name which the URI minter vouches to keep unique",
which is as harmless as "name" or "names".

| Isn't this 
| 'identifies' usage supposed to suggest SOME kind of similarity 
| between the URI-to-information-resource relationship and the 
| URI-to-Dan Connolly relationship? 

That would be plain wrong, at least when we compare the fact of using a name
versus the retrieving of a representation, and you are right in pointing this

| We usually say "identifies" rather 
| than merely "is a name of" when the identifier can be USED to single 
| out the thing named from the universal multitude, just as an xxtp: 
| URI can be USED to actually GET something. But names can't be used 
| like this, in general: they are just names. They aren't anything like 
| addresses or identifiers, because they don't identify. They just name.

No. In the Netherlands, as elsewhere, we keep city names unique, and they can be
used to used to single out the actual cities. Come over here, and ask anybody
how to get to "Amsterdam", and you'll use the name to get there. The same goes
for almost any (artificial) name which is kept unique by the issuer - for
instance, celestial bodies or natural species.

| I really do not know how to decide if Bilbo Baggins is 
| an information resource. I think in fact he probably is, since he can 
| be entirely represented by some transmittable text, viz. the totality 
| of Tolkein's writings which mention him. Which I am sure is not what 
| the TAG intended, but I'm following their own definitions ...  :-)

Funny, and it also shows the definition of information resource is still

Marc de Graauw

Received on Wednesday, 26 September 2007 05:52:24 UTC

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