A person, organization, place, idea, subject matter topic/heading, and other real world things possess "identity" -- that is, a constellation of characteristics that distinguish them from any other identity. Associated with this abstraction can be a label used as a reference, or "identifier". This is the distinction between a thing and the name of the thing.

section from IETF's Domain Keys spec. (paraphrased by me)


The Linked Data meme is based on the use of HTTP based URIs as reference / identifier labels associated with the "identity abstraction" referred to above. Thus, when you de-reference (request information about) an HTTP based URI you ultimately end up with a resource URL that exposes the "constellation of characteristics" mentioned above, in a representation negotiated at request time -- between an HTTP client and server e.g., (X)HTML, JSON, XML, RDF/XML, N3, Turtle, Trix, others :-)