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Re: Ownership of namespaces Re: Ownership of namespaces

From: John Cowan <jcowan@reutershealth.com>
Date: Mon, 22 May 2000 10:22:01 -0400
Message-ID: <39294289.C997685@reutershealth.com>
To: Noah_Mendelsohn@lotus.com, "xml-uri@w3.org" <xml-uri@w3.org>
Note:  This email has not a rebuttal to Noah's; I agree with him almost entirely.  
Rather, I am simply exploiting his email to make a few points of my own.

Noah_Mendelsohn@lotus.com wrote:

> As long as a name is used purely
> for purposes of identity, it doesn't matter whether the original inventor
> of that name is even around 20 years later when I try to use the name
> (either processing an old document, or creating a new one conforming to a
> long-lived namespace).

Nevertheless, ensuring uniqueness requires some kind of longaeval
authority, centralized or distributed.  DNS names aren't unique over time,
as I've already established.  Uuids are unique only as long as the IEEE keeps
handing out 802.x address blocks in a safe way: if they dump core, somebody else
will have to take over the role.  Even the calendar, which has been stable over
more than a millennium, requires a distributed authority to keep it on track
(all the various national observatories and time standard bodies).

So while the original source of the name may no longer exist, the source of
the namespace of sources, as it were, must remain.

> As a point of comparison, a Java programmer can easily create programs that
> use interfaces in or even create interfaces in packages with names deriving
> from long-defunct DNS names.

Unless the long-defunct name is reinstated tomorrow, and the new owner
publishes new rules.  In that case, all die ... O, the embarrassment.

> Interpreted in the manner that you prefer, I think it becomes very
> difficult to have a namespace named by an http: URL be usable after the
> organization that invented the name goes out of existence.

Exactly so.  There is supposed to be a once-and-for-all source of organizational
names, the ISO Registration Authority under ISO/IEC 9070, but it's broken.
With such a name, you can create FPIs that begin "+<yourname>" and go from
there.  Once the mechanism is working, it could be encapsulated into the
URI system by creating the "fpi:" URI scheme.

> Whatever the other pros and cons, I think that one potential advantage of
> the straight string-comparison approach is that it does not require/imply
> any notion of ownership.  The creator's responsibility ends with ensuring
> uniqueness.



Schlingt dreifach einen Kreis um dies! || John Cowan <jcowan@reutershealth.com>
Schliesst euer Aug vor heiliger Schau,  || http://www.reutershealth.com
Denn er genoss vom Honig-Tau,           || http://www.ccil.org/~cowan
Und trank die Milch vom Paradies.            -- Coleridge (tr. Politzer)
Received on Monday, 22 May 2000 10:22:22 UTC

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