Ugly URIsMonday, October 6th, 2008 4:27 pm
It’s a fact, GUIDs are ugly. So why use them for a common URI? There are a number of reasons.
- First of all, RDF documents are meant to consumed by machines. These have no problem processing GUIDs; they actually have an easier time because of the fixed length.
- Second, most existing descriptive URIs have an English bias. This puts non-English speaking people at an unnecessary disadvantage.
- Third, a descriptive URI gives a false sense of being able to identify a subject by URI alone. This is dangerous, since /George_Bush could refer to the 41st U.S. president, the 43rd U.S. president, or the guy down the street. Various disambiguation techniques such as parenthetical suffixes have limited scope.
- Fourth, GUIDs don’t change. It’s possible for a company or the George Bush down the street to experience a name change. It would be unrealistic to expect all linked content to change associations to reflect this update, when a mere descriptive change would suffice.
- Finally, GUIDs can be generated offline and still be unique. This allows asynchronous association to a common Open GUID that specifically identifies a subject.
For a truly global identifier, it is necessary to have multilingual descriptions to disambiguate a subject. It is a straightforward task to develop tools that associate identifiers with local descriptions to help link content.