Signifiers/Namespaces (was Re: Another look at namespaces)

Simon St.Laurent simonstl at
Sat Sep 18 04:49:37 BST 1999

Hmm... structuralism... seems appropriate here.

Maybe we can say that:

a local name is a partial signifier, like having part of a (person's) name

a qualified name is a complete signifier

a schema is a set of rules describing how signifiers can contain other
signifiers, and defines a set of signifiers.

This still leaves us needing something else to connect signifiers to
_signifieds_ - which we don't have yet.  A schema, except perhaps in the
documentation end of it, still doesn't do that.

RDF is one possibility that's been suggested for connecting signifiers to
signified, and XML packaging has been suggested as another.  Right now, it
seems like we're spending a lot of time manipulating signifiers and hoping
that the connection to the signified is obvious. Which it is - except that
everyone's obvious is different.

Have to stop home and pick up that battered copy of Saussure.  Can't say I
was ever fond of Chomsky.

At 06:33 PM 9/17/99 -0400, David Megginson wrote:
>Tim Berners-Lee writes:
> > The namespaces spec doesn't tell you how to describe the
> > meaning of a name. But that does *not* mean that it should have none.
>But I didn't suggest that at all (sorry for any confusion) -- I merely
>suggested that the Namespace-qualified name itself is just a
>signifier.  The signified is something and somewhere else.  I'm fairly 
>certain that we agree on this point.

Simon St.Laurent
XML: A Primer (2nd Ed - September)
Building XML Applications
Inside XML DTDs: Scientific and Technical
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