Confucius has met Korzybski

2011-06-19 @ 15:51#

Confucius advocated for the "Rectification of Names" over 2500 years ago; his goal remains an illusion. In today’s information world, the URI specifications (RFC3986) make no claims as to the ultimate meaning of network identifiers. Instead the specifications provide a common set of rules for constructing valid URIs (not interpreting them).

In 1931, Korzybski claimed "The map is not the territory"; so far there is no evidence to the contrary. HTTP is the only application-level protocol that I know of where this fundamental reality is incorporated into the model. In fact, the HTTP specs state (in the abstract): "A feature of HTTP is the typing and negotiation of data representation, allowing systems to be built independently of the data being transferred."

Why the history lesson? A recent thread on cropped up this past week that, once again, rehashes these same two points: representation and naming. While the thread was prompted by the recent publication of the site, it really dates back to the "great compromise" of 2005 which was the result of an issue first raised by TimBL in 2002.

The continued (sometimes heated) discussion of this same topic almost a decade later is an indication of its intractability. Attempts to adhere to the 2005 compromise have kept the problem “under control” but never eliminated it. In fact, it will never be eliminated.

Confucius has met Korzybski.