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   RE: [xml-dev] Generality of HTTP

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Jonathan Borden wrote,
> 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.

Err ... nope, far from it.

Dan Dennett _is_ however the editor of The Philosophers Lexicon, and 
has been since it's early days before it went public in the American 
Philosophers Association journal. That's where the verb "to quine" 
comes from, and the definition there is the one understood by all the
professional philosophers I've ever met.

> 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 adopted.
> I submit this is the Web.

Hmm ... let's see where this goes.

Let's try an example. I'll coin a new word: "squaggle". Now how am I
supposed to compete for this word to be adopted?

Here's the only way I can think of. I go around asserting that when
I use the word "squaggle" what I mean is, say, semantic agreement,
and actively use the word with that intention. It so happens that 
quite a few people decide that "semantic agreement" is a bit of a 
mouthful, and that "squaggle" is a convenient shorthand, so they adopt 
it too. After a little while "squaggle" gains currency, the
lexicographers take note and it gets scheduled for inclusion in the
next edition of the OED.

OK, at what point did "squaggle" switch over from being a private
quirk of mine to being part of a public communicable language? Was it 
when I first asserted "by 'squaggle' I mean semantic agreement" or was 
it when that convention became widely adopted? Pretty clearly the 

So, how is this scenario any different from Mark asserting that,


means "bricks"? Not one bit IMO. It can be his private quirk if he
likes, but it's not part of any public communications mechanism until
at least one other person adopts the same convention, and it's not
likely to be particularly useful until significantly more that one
other person follows suit.

Maybe I wasn't as clear as I should have been earlier. My point wasn't
that I could ride roughshod over Marks intentions and make that URI
mean whatever I liked. My point was that Marks assertion that the URI
means bricks is no less absurd than my assertion that it means
something else. It takes more that an isolated assertion to
manufacture meaning.

> 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_.

Not just useful ... it must be _used_, and other than for the purposes 
of this discussion noone uses that URI to mean bricks.

> > 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 meaning.
> 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.

I don't follow. Is that meant to be a moral argument for a bogus
semantic theory? 

Whatever, the only thing Mark owns is a domain name. The only way I 
can abuse a domain name is by interfering with it's mapping to an IP 
address. If I did that Mark would have a legitimate complaint and I'd 
be in trouble. But, aside from possible trademark and defamation 
issues, using that string of characters embedded in an http: URI for
other purposes isn't prohibited by any legal or moral rules that I can 
think of. Why should it be?



Miles Sabin                                     InterX
Internet Systems Architect                      27 Great West Road
+44 (0)20 8817 4030                             Middx, TW8 9AS, UK
msabin@interx.com                               http://www.interx.com/


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