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   Re: [xml-dev] Generality of HTTP

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Miles Sabin wrote:

> Jonathan Borden wrote,

[unresolvable issues snipped]

> >
> > which is why at the end of the day URIs are rather mundane names or
> > words and this problem is not at all unique. If we don't have
> > conventions then we can't have conversations or get work done.
> Spot on.
> What's doing the work here? The URIs or the conventions?
> > taking your argument to its extreme: 2 + 2 = 5, if I choose to
> > define it that way for me.
> Why is that extreme? All you'd be doing is spelling four the way most
> people five. That's highly likely to cause a failure of communication,
> but it wouldn't stop you doing arithmetic privately.
> > This argument was perhaps best made by WVO Quine in the 'Two Dogmas
> > of Empiricism" and the term "Quining an argument" has been used
> > to refer some people's habit of ignoring common conventions about
> > what words mean, in order to 'disprove' an argument.
> Actually (and amusingly in this context), that's not what quining is,
> see,
>   http://www.blackwellpublishers.co.uk/lexicon/

Actually, the "important" concept that Quine denied the existence of, was
precisely "a priori" truths, 2 + 2 = 4 being one that serves as a classic
example. So the meaning of the term depends on one's perspective. You are
assuming that 'Daniel Dennett' is the ultimate authority on philosophy.

> And Quine, especially in Two Dogmas, is a bad choice for you to appeal
> to in this context: he doesn't think that words in isolation (mutatis
> mutandis URIs) mean anything at all.

As I said. URIs are rather mundane words. A characteristic of the "http"
scheme and the HTTP protocol is the concept of the registrant of the "host"
e.g. the entity who owns the DNS entry for "mark.baker.ca".

Suppose for the time being that you accept the convention I propose (note I
was not the first to propose this, but please bear with me for the moment):

Suppose we create a new system where individuals and organizations can
create NEW words at will and publish them. Suppose we allow the publishers
of the words to have the _authority_ over the meaning of those words. Now
certainly we will get lots of meaningless words and won't want to use most
of them, on the other hand we do not need to wait for the Oxford Dictionary
to publish new words, nor wait for the institute that certifies words for
inclusion into the French language. We will have a system where people and
organizations can freely create words and can compete for these words to be

I submit this is the Web. The idea is, exactly like 2 + 2 = 4, is not that
it is _required_ for the owner of the URI to be the authority on its
meaning, rather that this is _useful_.

> > I submit, simply that as it is useful to consider 2+2 = 4 in order
> > to derive the benefits of mathematics and engineering (e.g. when I
> > am building a bridge) that it is similarly useful to know what the
> > owner or producer of a URI intends it to mean.
> That works where there's a discipline and a language already up and
> running. But Mark was arguing that he could introduce new meaningful
> vocabulary by a combination of ownership and stipulation and nothing
> else. That's just Humpty Dumpty semantics.

Perhaps, but you are not forced to use _his_ semantics (just don't use his
URIs). If you want to create another word having another meaning, you are
entirely free to create your own word, and your own group can adopt your

All I ask is that you don't misuse _Mark's_ words (even though you can). It
is not polite. That is the Web convention.



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