From words to URIs and tags
The Information Revolution as a
Materialization of the
Link Between Words and Things
Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne University
Material Cultures 2010, Edinburgh
• 2/3 : It identifies one resource, published by
the person who owns the URI or is using a
service that lets her publish on the Web (a la
• E.g.: The SVG 1.1 specification (not just a
name but a name + a demonstrative)
• 3/3 : it refers to whatever one wants (like a
millian meaningless mark).
By contrast the bibliographic reference:
identified a document with a given set of
14th of January 2003
and authored by
Document Current expression of a
Number of editors 3 10
Status W3C W3C Working Draft
Title Scalable Vector Scalable Vector
Graphics (SVG) 1.1 Graphics (SVG) 1.1
Specification (Second Edition)
URI http://www.w3.org/ http://www.w3.org/
TR/SVG11/ until 30 TR/SVG11/ since 22
April 2009, June 2010
Does it all boils down to differences of editions?
No book may change to such an extent the
expression of a resource is able to while the
resource itself remains the same.
We might imagine (especially if there is an artist behind) and no doubt find
relevant examples of books that underwent drastic changes between two
editions. So, what’s the difference? These are marginal cases, while, on
the Web, everything works like that.
A URI like http://www.w3.org/TR/SVG11/
• identifies one resource, which remains the
• and gives access to its representation (the
latter being subject to changes over time)
Expressions of a resource v.s editions of a book
Yesterday we discussed cookery books,
recipes & the question of localization.
A book of recipes, once localized, would be
altered but as a resource it would remain the
same provided the person who published it
cared about their feasibility.
Explicit differences Implicit differences
Litre Cup (japanese)
If her resource was instead a precise text, in
all its minute details, with no regard to the
function of a cookery book, things would be
On the Web, the various representations of a
resource are generated through
• “HTTP has provisions for several mechanisms
for "content negotiation" -- the process of
selecting the best representation for a given
response when there are multiple
(Hypertext Transfer Protocol -- HTTP/1.1
RFC 2616 Fielding, et al.)
Which resource is the meaning of a
The answer to that question depend on
how can we follow a rule?
(raised by at least “three” philosophers, namely
Goodman and Kripgenstein).
To determine the correct expression of a
resource you certainly need to follow a rule.).
E.g. The SVG 1.1 specification
This demonstrative The name account for the timeless
betoken the timely aspect of the resource (reminiscent
nature of the expression of the concept of substance in
of the said resource. Aristotle)
Which rule ?
If I see this :
I might imagine that it is a token of the colour
No, I meant « Grue »!
• Current instantiation (realization):
• Example of overall representation:
The Genericity of resources on the Web
Generic.html) opens the possibility of rule-
Generity & rule-following help to distinguish
between resources & their expressions.
One can infer from its expression what a resource
is, and nevertheless choose to refer to whatever
Whence the importance of tagging as a vector of
social meaning (because meaning is not just a
private affair, nor a function of URI ownership).
tag actions as typed & named graphs + ontology
Modelled, in the NiceTag ontology as tag
actions akin to speech acts (assert, point,
but more varied thanks to the possibility
offered by technology – to send and share,
what about non-information resources???
Web of documents or Web of Things?
(Identity Crisis, Hayes and Halpin)
What is this resource :
Picture by Uldis Bojārs
a picture of Tim Berners-
Lee or the man himself ?
I might not be able to decide until I try to ask for other
expressions. Then if I get an RDF document with either a
description of Tim Berners-Lee or of that photo (or
something else altogether), in all likelihood, I’ll know.
URI publishers still have an authoritative position and may
assert which expressions of a resource they favour through
conneg. They’re the ones who fix the meaning of the URI
(aka the resource) though identification.
Back to where we used to be:
documents and things,
on the Web anything is a resource.
But isn’t a video just… a video?
Not really, it’s also an « intentional object » (D.Dennett) and how it is used
will let us decide which resource is behind.
See Media Fragments for instance.
Slide by R.Troncy:
Any part of a video identified with URIs
media fragments becomes a resource.
Now, considering what was said before, it
doesn’t come as a surprise that this URI
may, at will, stand for this segment itself
or identify a real-world event captured
(represented) by this recording.
Materialization of the link between
words and things.
a) Identification/reference & access.
b) Access, in the case of dereferenceable URIs
that identify resources, concerns their
c) Further work includes taking into account
the materiality of objects to better articulate
resources & their various expressions,
materiality & meaning.
Future: the Web of Objets
• Time is of paramount importance for any ontology of
• As was said earlier, resources come in non-information
flavour. With the growing importance of the Web, the
on-offline distinction is losing ground.
• It might thus be our entire ontology of real-world
things that is shifting towards a picture where the
importance of time is no longer obfuscated.
• the ontology of the Web and our ontology are
converging as the former becomes ubiquitous
• time, becoming and being are no longer