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Re: [ontolog-forum] "Data/digital Object" Identities

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: Kingsley Idehen <kidehen@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 22 Oct 2014 14:05:08 -0400
Message-id: <5447F1D4.6070705@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
On 10/22/14 1:36 PM, Barkmeyer, Edward J wrote:

One must realize that the ITU-T people are quite capable of enforcing their framework in their own industry – they are the nationalized and private telecommunications providers worldwide.  Their standards make Korean cell phones work in the EU, and allow my cell-phone to access a land line in Japan.  Of the bullets below, they have had (a) and (b) since 1982, using “ASN.1 Object Identifiers”, and they are still widely used in telecomm.  And one of the first adopted URNs was urn:oid:<ASN.1 Object Identifier>, so that they could use them as URIs.  And their software people are very disciplined, because when they have a system failure, the consequences are dramatic, as a recent AT&T event demonstrated.  So, protocol changes are disruptive and dangerous, and they don’t do pointless changes based on the bandwagon of the week.


Note how effective that standard has been outside their industry.  (Well, the healthcare information exchange people and a few others used it widely in the 1990s.)


In product labeling land, there is another system:  UPN barcodes, and in the finance world, there are international standard stock identifiers, and then there are DUNS and DIRAC codes for organizations, large and small.  And in all of these cases, and in the ITU case, the use of these identifiers is de rigueur in the industry.  These schemes were devised and promulgated in these industries long before URIs, because they were needed for unambiguous transactions.  And they all have a common property – there is a single organization that provides the identifiers, for a (not necessarily inexpensive) fee, because they provide a service to businesses.  (In the stocks case, and the ITU case, there are multiple appointed providers.)  And in those cases, there is one reference registry, or at least one that can locate all the others.  These identifiers have become successful in part because there is guaranteed support: business serving business on a contractual basis.


Part of the problem with identifiers in the Internet of Things is that we have no idea who all the providers will be, or what kind of support they will provide.  Experience teaches us that most software producers have no concept of warranty, and a minimal understanding of service.  And we already have competing technologies:  IRIs, UUIDs, RFIDs, and all the traditional ones.  So, in addition to understanding the concept of identity, we need to understand the pragmatics of identifiers.  There is not going to be one ring to rule them all.  And everything that can go wrong with identifiers will.


So, we really need to address the issue that Jack Ring mentioned – the problem of “discovery” based on characteristics.  The gas station at the corner of High Street and Route 45, as long as it is still there, will provide some version of the expected service, even if the brand has changed, the owners have changed, the DUNSID has changed, and the city has renumbered the addresses on High Street.


And OBTW, I think that topic maps might really be a useful and successful technology for “discovery” in Linked Open Data, and perhaps in the Clouds.  It is accessible to many more software engineers than useful OWL models, for example, would be.  (And I am sure there must be existing projects, but I am too lazy to Google it.)





From: ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Gary Berg-Cross
Sent: Wednesday, October 22, 2014 11:29 AM
To: [ontolog-forum]
Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] "Data/digital Object" Identities


Thanks all for the interesting comments on this which seems to agree that as William put it:
"identification in cyberspace is what creates the the acute need for better understanding of identifications."

I do find that computer scientists, programmers and the like often get off on a fast track without understanding some of the down side of ignored issues.

They start talking about identifiers of digital objects and then jump to this as some basis for interoperability as in:

"The system of federated registries in this Recommendation is based on an open architecture that enables interoperability across arbitrary information systems."

 It is in part a misplaced reliance on concretized identity management (identifier is a series of bits) as opposed to understanding that these identities (rather than The Identity) arise from a process of identifying something is some useful way among may such ways as Hans noted.

BTW, if one wants to see some of that people are talking about as part of identity and ID management for digital objects you can look at:

X.1255 : Framework for discovery of identity management information

Since William has a long time interest following his  Bachelor's work  on some of this his comments may be interesting. The above quote on interoperability is from this report as is this large claim (pg 7):

"The components are:
a) a scalable and distributed identifier system for the identification of DEs and for identifier resolution;
b) repositories for access to and management of digital entities; and
c) registries for federated search and discovery. Using these components, the resulting
distributed system can be managed through interface specifications and protocols instead of through the on-going maintenance of specific components.

Digital entities are the core element around which all other components and services are built and managed. Digital entities do not replace existing formats and data structures, but instead provide a common means for representing these formats and structures, allowing them to be uniformly interpreted and thus moveable in and out of various heterogeneous information systems and across changes in systems over time."


Gary Berg-Cross, Ph.D.  


SOCoP Executive Secretary

Independent Consultant

Potomac, MD



On Wed, Oct 22, 2014 at 9:47 AM, William Frank <williamf.frank@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:

Cyber Identity has been at the heart of my job for the last three years, and identity an interest ever since I wrote my bachelor's thesis on Leibniz and Master's thesis on Frege.

I agree with you, entirely Hans,  and would say that implicit in your language is the essence of the problem: 'identity' is a kind of a very ghostly abstraction without much mooring.  Identity is surely not an attribute of a thing.   What HAS a mooring is the ACT of identification  As you put it Hans, "assigning an identity."  The act of identification is, as you say, a social act, and is of course context dependent. 

Also, I agree that identification in cyberspace is what creates the the acute need for better understanding of identifications.

But, it is not an entirely new problem, applications and deeper dives into what is already known might suffice. 

For example, Gary's questions: Is a data object in one format the same as a data object in a different format or a different one?  The bit streams can change but the original identity might be considered the same."  This applies to *all* human artifacts.  When is Moby Dick the 'same' book?    However, a new huge confusion has arisen, the conflating of identifiers with identities. 

As Gary says, 'seems like a large claim."  Worse than large, if people think that computers can provide mathematical certainly about things in the real world, the assurance that, in effect, a passport MUST be a correct indentifier, then we are another step along the way to handing over autocratic authority to the machines.  Instead of 'we do not have a record of your payment'. we go do 'you did not make the payment.' 

I am not sure how Jack's point about URIs relates, except that surely, 'to be is to be a URI" is another weird way the world might be going.    For cyber thiings and their identifying characteristics, I would agree with you, Jack.  But, I also think that identification of *physical* objects might never or not for a long time be replicatable with information about the object that can be captured on a computer. 





On Tue, Oct 21, 2014 at 7:22 PM, Jack Park <jackpark@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:

I've been importing ontologies into a topic map of late. It's rather surprising how many URIs have been assigned to the concept with the label "Person".

I think it is correct to argue that there are many different ways in which some entity is identified by different individuals and communities, so it would seem that any "Architecture" which grows up around digital objects -- which, by many lights, are proxies for subjects one way or another-- should be capable of capturing all knowable ways to identify that object, regardless of the database identifier assigned to it locally.


On Tue, Oct 21, 2014 at 3:24 PM, Hans Polzer <hpolzer@xxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:



I tend to agree with your musings. The issue of identity (of whatever entity) is certainly one that the network revolution has brought to increased importance, if for no other reason than that it exposes the identities that anyone assigns to an entity/object, be it digital or “real world” to those who may assign a different identity to that same entity/object, however “sameness” might be defined. The NCOIC Net Centric Principles grappled with this issue by means of a principle called “Entity Primacy”, which basically states that whatever identity you might assign to an entity/object, it has other identities in other, usually collective, frames of reference. Deal with that, as opposed to assuming that the identity you assigned has primacy. Usually that would mean recognizing that the entity/object has other identities in other frames of reference, and one should be prepared to map the locally assigned identity to one or more other identities in other frames of reference, presumably those used by actors with whom one might want to exchange information about said entity/object.


Of course, one could argue that any entity/object has some “natural” or “inherent” identity, such as the PID referenced below, UUID’s (Universal Unique Identifiers), or a person’s DNA, or perhaps more pragmatically, the VIN of an automobile. But even these assume a context of some, usually implicit, scope and an associated frame of reference. In other words, such an identity is inherently one of the collective within which the entity/object is being identified. Entity Primacy therefore points out that no collective context has a priori primacy for assigning identities to entities/objects. One needs to specify which collective context a particular identity for an entity/object is based on/derived from. And yes, this is recursive, since such collective contexts for assigning identities will themselves have identities in, presumably, larger contexts.


Humans just tend to glom onto some collective context (such as DNS) and assume that everyone else will simply use that collective context for identifying entities, forgetting that not everything uses DNS, even in the networking domain. PIDs would certainly help things – but they are not universal and they likely assume some representational context dimensions, as you surmise in your email. That’s OK as long as one is explicit about what those are and understand the scope limitations that they imply when interacting with others who might not share those assumptions.




From: ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Gary Berg-Cross
Sent: Tuesday, October 21, 2014 5:39 PM
To: [ontolog-forum]
Subject: [ontolog-forum] "Data/digital Object" Identities


There is a bit of a movement to discuss digital data in terms of Digital Objects and an  "Architecture."  One rationale for this seems to be to provide an easier mechanism for the "creation of, and access to, digital objects as discrete data structures with unique, resolvable identifiers"  - From a CNRI’s Press Release. 

It is further argued that such Digital Objects with a persistent ID (PID) will "provide a foundation for representing and interacting with information on the Internet."

Seems like a large claim and I wonder what this community thinks of this idea. After all Identity is quite a semantic issue and intuitions about identities for digital objects might cause some problems.  They seem quite mutable and we'd need to distinguish the ID for the raw data from each processing version of it.  Is a data object in one format the same as a data object in a different format or a different one?  The bit streams can change but the original identity might be considered the same.



Gary Berg-Cross, Ph.D.  


SOCoP Executive Secretary

Independent Consultant

Potomac, MD



Great thread!

Taking some notes, using Nanotation [1]:

## Nanotation Start ##

is foaf:primaryTopic of  <> .

a <http://sw.opencyc.org/concept/Mx4rvViIrZwpEbGdrcN5Y29ycA> ;
rdfs:label "Identifier" .

## Nanotation End ##


[1] http://linkeddata.uriburner.com/c/8CMXFZ -- The effects of the nanotation above will be reflected here (ditto any other RDF statements for which
<https://twitter.com/hashtag/Identity#this> is a relation subject or object)

[2] http://kidehen.blogspot.com/2014/07/nanotation.html -- About Nanotation (enabling embedding of RDF statements into any text input slots, even the tiny slots provided by 147 character constrained tweets).

Kingsley Idehen	      
Founder & CEO 
OpenLink Software     
Company Web: http://www.openlinksw.com
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