Uniform Resource Names (URNs)
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HTTP 404 - NOT FOUND
Have you ever tried to access a Web site or other Internet resource, only to see those dreaded words appear? You probably have, and in seeing them, you have experienced first-hand one of the most common problems with Uniform Resource Locators (URLs).
URLs specify a resource using two key pieces of information: the resource's location, and a method by which the resource may be accessed or retrieved. This focus on the means of access for the resource makes URLs very practical, in that the URL usually contains all the data we need to use the resource. This is why URLs are so widely used today. However, this access orientation also means that URLs have a number of serious limitations.
The main difficulty with URLs is that since they describe a resource based on its location, they tie the resource and its location together inextricably. While this may not seem to be a big deal, it is actually a fairly serious matter in a number of ways, because a resource and its location are not the same thing. It is only because most Internet resources rarely change location that we don't notice this issue more often with URLs.
Suppose that your name is Joe Xavier Zachariah and you live at 44 Glendale Crescent in Sydney, Australia. If someone asked you who you were, would you say Joe Xavier Zachariah, or the man living at 44 Glendale Crescent in Sydney, Australia? Almost certainly, the former; but a URL would be like describing yourself as a resource using the latter description.
Since we realize that Mr. Zachariah is obviously not always going to be at 44 Glendale Crescent, we know that describing him using just a location is not sufficient. The same thing occurs with Internet resources when they are identified using only location.
However, the problem with Internet resources and URLs goes beyond just the matter of movement. Consider a situation where a particular resource is very popular; we might want to duplicate the same resource in multiple locations. Using URLs, we would need a different identifier for each copy of the resource, even though each copy is the same. Again, the problem is that we are not identifying the resource itself but rather the place where it can be found.
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Version 3.0 - Version Date: September 20, 2005
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