What is a namespace ... really?

Sean Mc Grath digitome at iol.ie
Sun Jan 17 11:46:22 GMT 1999

[Terry Allen]
>So the "namespace" URI must identify a resource, which is anything
>[any "thing"] that has identity.  (Obviously and tautologically,
>the identity of any thing is itself; the thing makes its own identity
>simply by existing.)  You say that it doesn't have to point to anything 
>[any "thing"], and that it's "just a name".  So is the resource 
>["thing"] identified by a "namespace" URI itself?  or is it the name 
>of itself (maybe Kant could explain)?  How does something that is only 
>itself or the name of itself encompass anything else?
>Me, myself, I think this is a bogus use of URIs.  What you are
>really using is DNS, and you don't need to use fake URIs to do so;
>cf. the IOTP spec.  

IMHO, namespaces are predicated on the belief that the
homesteading of DNS space is accompanied by a willingless
amongst the homesteaders to respect each others property
rights without resorting to a DNS arbitrator.
(With apologies to Eric Raymond:-)

e.g. I can freely name my Java packages com.amazon.* on my hard
disk but would I? No. "amazon.com" is owned by someone else and
I need to respect that ownership to be a responsible, law
abiding net citizen.

Amazon might announce that http://www.amazon.com/namespaces/SpecialOffers
it the URI of an E-commerce namespace. They might document it on
http://www.amazon.com/docs/namespaces. The latter physically
exists, the former exists in name only. The scheme only
works because we all agree that the set of names rooted
at amazon.com is the property of amazon.com.

In order to use a namespace its usage must be written somewhere
though! I understand that there is no requirement for it
to be at the end of the URI itself but presumably doing
so will be considered good netiquette?

<Sean uri="http://www.digitome.com/sean.html"/>

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