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The Case for Public Resource Identifiers A Call for Action Steve Pepper, Ontopia Identity, Reference, and the Web Workshop, Edinburgh, May 2006.

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Presentation on theme: "The Case for Public Resource Identifiers A Call for Action Steve Pepper, Ontopia Identity, Reference, and the Web Workshop, Edinburgh, May 2006."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Case for Public Resource Identifiers A Call for Action Steve Pepper, Ontopia Identity, Reference, and the Web Workshop, Edinburgh, May 2006

2 IRW Workshop, Edinburgh, May 2006Steve Pepper – The Case for Public Resource Identifiers About this presentation Just a subset of my paper* for this workshop –1. Introduction (on the need for identifiers) –2. Requirements on a Global Identifier Mechanism –3. Published Subjects –4. Alternative Proposals –5. Call to Action Focus here is on the Call for Action –Expands on the ideas presented to the W3C AC *The Case for Published Subjects,

3 IRW Workshop, Edinburgh, May 2006Steve Pepper – The Case for Public Resource Identifiers URIs and the Towers of Babel * URIs constitute a universal way of naming things This has tremendous potential –Globally unique, language-independent identifiers for any conceivable subject under the sun We could finally stop building Towers of Babel –(Or at least make a real impression on info glut) * Whenever I say “URI”, please hear “IRI”

4 IRW Workshop, Edinburgh, May 2006Steve Pepper – The Case for Public Resource Identifiers The Semantic Superhighway At the very least, URIs give us the chance to create a “semantic superhighway” –A foundation for solving the problem of infoglut –A level of the Semantic Web below RDF But it’s not happening –In fact, we are witnessing the creation of new Towers of Babel –New, redundant vocabularies appear daily The potential is not being realised. Why?

5 IRW Workshop, Edinburgh, May 2006Steve Pepper – The Case for Public Resource Identifiers Why the Potential is Not Being Realised Too few people are using URIs as identifiers –It’s partly our fault We don’t explain the benefits loudly enough We don’t make it sufficiently easy and worthwhile We’ve been in turmoil on technical issues And those that do use URIs as identifiers tend to create new ones, rather than reuse existing ones –This defeats the purpose of a universal naming scheme

6 IRW Workshop, Edinburgh, May 2006Steve Pepper – The Case for Public Resource Identifiers Problems We Need to Address 1)The concepts are too varied and confusing, and they are not being marketed well –The world perceives a Heinz 59 variety of URIs –IRI, URN, URL, XRI, WPN, TDB,... 2)Reuse hard in practice –No repositories to aid discovery –No simple way to figure out what a given identifier is supposed to identify

7 IRW Workshop, Edinburgh, May 2006Steve Pepper – The Case for Public Resource Identifiers What We Need To Do Make the concepts easy to understand and apply –Agree on one flavour of URI –Promote the hell out of it –Deprecate everything else Encourage reuse in every possible way –Make it easy to discover and interpret identifiers –Encourage them to be made public

8 IRW Workshop, Edinburgh, May 2006Steve Pepper – The Case for Public Resource Identifiers Make the flavour of choice! Already widely used in Topic Maps and RDF –And, increasingly, elsewhere No longer subject to paralysing controversy –TAG’s resolution of httpRange-14 issue allows any (including slash to identify anything Familiar to anyone who has used a web browser –Having people type will not be a problem Most importantly: They resolve easily when you click on them –So let’s exploit that fact...

9 IRW Workshop, Edinburgh, May 2006Steve Pepper – The Case for Public Resource Identifiers Have them resolve to something useful! The most useful thing to resolve to would be a descriptor –definition, description, some other kind of indication of what the identifier is intended to identify –(machine-processable information would be a useful “optional extra”) Allows users to know what the identifier “means” –i.e., what it is intended to identify –... and decide whether it is appropriate for them to use Also easy to discover using web search engines

10 IRW Workshop, Edinburgh, May 2006Steve Pepper – The Case for Public Resource Identifiers A Proposal for Public Resource Identifiers Three Key Principles: 1.A Public Resource Identifier (PRI – “pry”) is –an that has been minted for the explicit purpose of serving as an identifier 2.It resolves to a Public Resource Descriptor (PRD) –that describes which resource (subject) it identifies and states who minted it 3.ANYONE should be able to mint a PRI –A bottom-up mechanism (anarchic, like the Web) –Survival of the fittest (= the most trusted)

11 IRW Workshop, Edinburgh, May 2006Steve Pepper – The Case for Public Resource Identifiers Sounds familiar? Essentially identical to “Published Subjects” –Proposed by SC34 in 1999 as Public Subjects –Refined within OASIS as Published Subjects Only major difference: –The requirement to use But also a restatement of basic Web Architecture principles –Cool URIs don’t change –http:URIs can identify anything –http:URIs should resolve to something useful Does it matter what we call it? –(Does it even need a new name?) –“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”

12 IRW Workshop, Edinburgh, May 2006Steve Pepper – The Case for Public Resource Identifiers What’s in a Name? Would this rose by any other name smell as sweet? It’s a branding issue –Does the name have useful / non-useful connotations? cf. “resource” and “subject” –Can we create cool TLAs (if necessary)? pronouncable, depictable, available, distinguishable The ParadigmPublished SubjectsPublic Resource Identifiers The URIpublished subject identifierpublic resource identifier Abbrev. of the abovePSI (Ψ)PRI (“pry”) Referent of the URIpublished subject indicatorpublic resource descriptor Abbrev. of the abovePSIPRD

13 IRW Workshop, Edinburgh, May 2006Steve Pepper – The Case for Public Resource Identifiers A Call for Action: Incubator Group Let the W3C and SC34 get together to push PRIs –The details can be hammered out in a few months Then bring OASIS on board –(before even more vocabularies appear...) Approach other standards bodies, including –SC32 (databases, meta data), SC36 (e-learning), IFLA, and others (TBD) Let’s build a Semantic Superhighway together… –I will be making a formal proposal shortly

14 IRW Workshop, Edinburgh, May 2006Steve Pepper – The Case for Public Resource Identifiers The PRI Incubator Group A W3C activity with participation from ISO and OASIS Chartered for < 12 months to –refine and codify the Three Key Principles –provide absolutely minimal recommendations for the form of the PRI the content of the PRD –address issues of branding and outreach esp. naming and strategy for promulgating the paradigm

15 IRW Workshop, Edinburgh, May 2006Steve Pepper – The Case for Public Resource Identifiers More on the PRI-XG Suggested participation –3 sponsors from W3C (TAG, SemWeb,...) –Invited international experts from ISO SC34 –Invited experts from OASIS (UBL, OpenOffice) –Coordinator and team contact Suggested goals –XG Report –Possible fast-track as W3C Rec and ISO Technical Report

16 IRW Workshop, Edinburgh, May 2006Steve Pepper – The Case for Public Resource Identifiers The Continuation of a Fine Tradition Diderot ’ s Encyclopédie (1751–1780) –THE DESCRIPTION OF EVERYTHING Oxford English Dictionary (1857–1928) –THE MEANING OF EVERYTHING Public Resource Identifiers (1999– ) –THE IDENTITY OF EVERYTHING X


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