Dear John, (01)
I don't think that you have posed the problem entirely correctly. (02)
At present, ISO assigns identifiers to documents and can supply an
identified document. ISO has procedures in place to ensure that when a
request is made for the document with identifier "ISO 6892-1:2008" (say),
then the document that was agreed by the experts and approved by national
standards bodies is supplied. The use of "ISO 6892-1:2008" as a keyword in a
business/engineering transaction (to perform a material test) is valid
because there is confidence in ISO procedures. (03)
In the future ISO may assign identifiers to things rather than documents.
These identifiers may be URIs, and ISO may provide a Web service so that
dereferencing a URI for a thing redirects to a document that defines the
thing. The procedures necessary to do this reliably are not so different to
those already in place within ISO for documents. The definition and
implementation of these procedures would be entirely under the control of
ISO and nothing to do with W3C. (04)
- ISO assigns URIs to things;
- the business/engineering community is confident that ISO has procedures in
place to ensure that the correct documents are obtained when URIs are
dereferenced, then the business/engineering community will use them. (05)
Reasons why this has not happened yet are:
1) ISO is funded by selling documents, and so a change of business model is
2) the use of URIs to identify things has not yet been seen as something of
sufficient importance. (06)
The work of this community can change (2). (07)
At 18:09 08/07/2009 -0400, you wrote:
>We can all agree on two fundamental principles:
> 1. The idea of unique identifiers is important.
> 2. Providing an automatic method for automatically linking
> those identifiers to official definitions is also important.
>But of these two principles, the first is primary, and the
>second is a convenience, which could be satisfied in many
>different ways. The ISO method, for example, is based on
>printed documents: The unique identifier of the document
>together with the unique name within the document is the
>method of resolution. For convenience, the resolution of
>identifiers to definitions could be automated, but the
>printed documents are the official standards.
>Kevin's pointer to Tim B-L's note is significant:
>That note is dated 2006-07-27, last change: $Date: 2009/06/18 18:24:33 $
>That implies that the note is recent, and it changes often.
>In that note, Tim says
> > I'll refer to the steps above as rules, but they are expectations
> > of behavior. Breaking them does not destroy anything, but misses
> > an opportunity to make data interconnected. This in turn limits
> > the ways it can later be reused in unexpected ways. It is the
> > unexpected re-use of information which is the value added by the
> > web.
>That paragraph that considers those rules as "expectations of
>behavior" raises all kinds of red flags. Whose expectations?
>And whose behavior? Well meaning, but careless programmers?
>Mischievous hackers? Organized terrorists?
>Two centuries ago, the standards for units of measurement were
>considered so precious that they were based on platinum exemplars
>kept in sealed vaults in Paris. They were only taken out on rare
>occasions to compare them with other exemplars. For portability,
>the meter was later redefined in terms of a wavelength of light.
>But to replace such official standards with documents that could
>be modified by a careless mistake or a mischievous hacker is
>the height of folly.
>Unless and until URIs are replaced by or implemented by some
>provably secure mechanisms, I recommend that official standards
>for identifying ontologies and their contents be based methods
>similar to the tried and tested ISO procedures -- not on a
>mechanism as insecure as the W3C URIs.
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