Purple question

Chris Dent adds purple numbers and paragraphs to Jason Kottke’s list of little things that are getting permanent addresses on the web. I think that’s right in some very interesting ways that are waiting for experiments and experience to show.
I have one big question about the usefulness of purple numbers that perhaps people who have worked with them can answer.
When I am editing, paragraphs are among the most malleable of units. Groups of a few sentences are combined to form larger paragraphs. Large paragraphs are split into smaller paragraphs. A few sentences from one paragraph are cut and moved to a different paragraph.
Therefore:
* purple references to an early draft will be very different from their referents in a later draft.
* the sequence will be garbled
* some references will be missing
So, perhaps purple numbers are only useful for final drafts — like a reviewed and published scientific paper.
But then, what about writing in wiki. When a wiki is used as a canonical writing tool, the content is malleable all the time. How confident can linkers be about the stability of a referent?
By contrast, a wiki page or a blog post is pretty stable. The content might change a lot (by the conventions and affordances of wiki) or a little (by the conventions and affordances of blog). But the topic is probably the same.
A del.icio.us link entry or a Flickr photograph is stable, although the description and tags may change.
In practice, are purple numbers stable enough to be useful? Or are there certain cases where they are more useful than others?

3 thoughts on “Purple question”

  1. Quite agree.
    The real difference is this : wiki pages have *names* whereas purple numbers are, well, numbers.
    PageNames are, to a certain extent, bound to their semantics by the conventions of the wider language use. The chances are I can’t arbitrarily rename my HelloWorld page to be RicePudding because the contents are unlikely to be equal.
    Numbers, OTOH, are completely abstract. They are only bound to a content, by the software. It’s perfectly reasonable to change which content sits at which number.
    This is also why wiki-like things where pages are named “node27” etc. don’t work. And why weblogs, which haven’t had semantically attached labels have actually been quite clumsy to search. (Maybe tagging is fixing this.)
    More : http://www.nooranch.com/synaesmedia/wiki/wiki.cgi?ConcretePageNames

  2. Good point about finer granularity correlating with ephemerality.
    However, the PurpleUniverse stuff is fascinating. Does it fit into the “lower-case semantic web” and/or the microformats movement somehow? Might depend on whether it can be embedded in valid XHTML.
    Hmm. Bookmarked for later investigation.

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