Web Resource Identity

Jerome McDonough jmcdonou at library.berkeley.edu
Fri May 28 19:36:10 BST 1999

At 10:01 AM 5/28/1999 -0500, Paul Prescod wrote:
>It is encouraging because it is long needed. It is disturbing because I
>believe it identifies a key problem with the Web (or with my understanding
>of the Web). 
>This document refers to the URI specification in its definition of
>"resource": "...anything that has identity." This is troubling because
>there is no definition of identity. In the HyTime and object oriented
>worlds, I believe that the defining characteristic of things with identity
>is that you can take two references and determine if they refer to the
>same object.

I take this definition of resource as reflecting a fairly sophisticated 
understanding of the reality of identifying and naming objects.  A single
URN identifying an abstract work may identify a variety of physical
of the work.  The physical manifestations retrieved may vary radically based
on the social/technical context of the person resolving a URN.  Two different
URNs may refer to the same abstract work, and retrieve the same or different
physical manifestations depending on the work identified, context of the
etc.  When you have two URNs identifying an abstract concept, I don't see
how you can reliably determine computationally that they both identify the
same thing.  Nonetheless, we need the ability to identify abstract works.
The definition of URIs, encompassing both URNs and URLs, had to deal
with this need.

Jerome McDonough -- jmcdonou at library.Berkeley.EDU  |  (......)
Library Systems Office, 386 Doe, U.C. Berkeley     |  \ *  * /
Berkeley, CA 94720-6000    (510) 642-5168          |  \  <>  /
"Well, it looks easy enough...."                   |   \ -- /  SGNORMPF!!!
         -- From the Famous Last Words file        |    ||||

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