The W3C Technical Architecture Group, on which I had the honour to serve for a couple of years, is working on a document called URNs, Namespaces, and Registries. Norm Walsh, longtime TAG member, has written a human-readable version, and I recommend it. The question of how to name things is persistently one of the hardest in Computer Science, and one of the reasons the Web succeeds is that it does a pretty good job, using URIs. If you’re thinking “Doesn’t he really mean URL?”, check out The Universal Republic of Love). However, every so often a group of people says “Hey, URIs beginning with http: are addresses, not names, and we need names, persistent names, so we’ll invent a new URI scheme.” They are nearly always wrong; it takes a whole lot of thinking about the notions of names and addresses to achieve clarity, and wanting a new URI scheme is usually evidence that you haven’t. I’ve tried to explain this dozens of times, but I think Norm does a better job than I ever have.


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August 02, 2006
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