Hunter, David dhunter at
Wed Jun 23 16:34:12 BST 1999

Lars Marius Garshol [mailto:larsga at] writes:
> For example, you like to think that the term 'Jupiter' denotes a
> planet, and that this planet is a solid well-defined thing, right?
> Well, it's not obvious that this really is so. You're referring to a
> ball of gas floating in a near-vacuum, but you'd be hard pressed to
> find a precise border where you can say that "Here the near-vacuum
> ends, and Jupiter begins", since the transition from the one to the
> other is so gradual.

While I have been amused [and bemused] by this thread (and the Superman one)
since the beginning, I think we also need to keep our eyes on the scope of
our discussion.  :-)  While it is true that the transition from vacuum to
Jupiter is very gradual, making it hard to determine exactly where Jupiter
starts and vacuum ends, it is probably irrelevant to every member of this
list, because none of us will have occasion to visit Jupiter.  While it is
interesting to discuss the philosophical implications of "does Clark Kent
equal Superman", it may not be <em>strictly</em> relevant to building web
applications, or the web itself.

As Miles Sabin pointed out in another post, "If we're arguing about things
which are live issues amongst present day academic philosophers we can be
fairly sure that we're not likely to come to a satisfactory resolution any
time soon ... it might be sensible to try and duck the issue altogether."
I'm not suggesting that we abandon the discussion of trying to determine
identity, but that we try to limit the scope to trying to determine identity
of the "things" we as XML/web developers deal with, such as web pages, and
XML documents, and Schemas, and DTDs, and the myriad other "resources" we
need to access.  (I think this was Miles' point as well.  Apologies if I've
misrepresented him, though.)

I think the Superman/Clark Kent metaphor was a good one, but it got taken
too far and now we're just discussing philosophy, not the web.  (Maybe I
shouldn't use the word "just" in that sentence...)

In another post on this thread, Lars Marius Garshol asked if the following
two URLs denote the same resource:


My question is, does it matter?  Is there a case where we need an
application to know or think that these two URLs are the same?  OTOH, are
THESE two URLs the same:


This, in my [small] mind, is a much more difficult question to answer, but
again, is there a case where we need an application to know or think that
these refer to the same thing?

I'm not arguing a point, here, I'm honestly asking.

David Hunter
david.hunter at
MediaServ Information Architects

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