The primary goal of the Semantic Web is to use URIs as a universal space to name anything, expanding from using URIs for webpages to URIs for “real objects and imaginary concepts,” as phrased by Berners-Lee. This distinction has often been tied to the distinction between information resources, like webpages and multimedia files, and non-information resources, which are everything from real people to abstract concepts like ‘the integers.’ Furthermore, the W3C has recommended not to use the same URI for information resources and non-information resources, and several communities like the Linked Data initiative are deploying this principle. The definition put forward by the W3C, that non-information resources are things whose “essential nature is information” is a difficult distinction at best. For example, would the text of Moby Dick be an information resource? While this problem could safely be ignored up until recently, with the rise of Linked Data and projects like OKKAM, it appears that this problem should be modelled formally. An ontology called IRW (Identity and Reference on the Web) of various types of resources and their relationships, both for the hypertext Web and the Semantic Web, is presented. It builds upon Information Object Lite (an extension of DOLCE Ultra Lite for describing information objects) and IRE (an earlier ontology of and aligns with other work in this area. This ontology can be used as a tool to make the Semantic Web more self-describing and to allow inference to be used to test for membership in various classes of resources.
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