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Re: Review of new HTTPbis text for 303 See Other

From: Mark Nottingham <mnot@mnot.net>
Date: Thu, 16 Jul 2009 13:11:00 +1000
To: "Ray Denenberg, Library of Congress" <rden@loc.gov>, Richard Cyganiak <richard@cyganiak.de>, Pat Hayes <phayes@ihmc.us>, Xiaoshu Wang <xiao@renci.org>, Jonathan Rees <jar@creativecommons.org>
Message-Id: <9CFE0955-A14A-4D88-BC26-43053D804575@mnot.net>
Cc: HTTP Working Group <ietf-http-wg@w3.org>, "www-tag@w3.org WG" <www-tag@w3.org>
With my HTTPbis WG chair hat on:

While some aspects of this thread have been related to HTTPbis' work,  
it appears that we've resolved that portion, and many of the other  
messages are not on-topic.

I'm generally tolerant of discussion that is related to HTTP even if  
it's not within our charter, but this thread is both voluminous and,  
in parts, quite distant from the focus of the WG.

Therefore, please desist from including the ietf-http-wg list unless a  
specific question needs to be discussed by the WG.


On 15/07/2009, at 11:01 PM, Ray Denenberg, Library of Congress wrote:

> I for one would appreciate if as much of this discussion as possible  
> remain ON-list.  I really don't care if peoples' mailboxes are  
> filling up or people are offended by some off-color language or  
> disagreeable arguments.  I've learned more about this issue from  
> this thread than from reading all the "relevant" documents.
> --Ray
> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Richard Cyganiak" <richard@cyganiak.de 
> >
> To: "Larry Masinter" <LMM@acm.org>
> Cc: "'Pat Hayes'" <phayes@ihmc.us>; "'Roy T. Fielding'" <fielding@gbiv.com 
> >; "'Jonathan Rees'" <jar@creativecommons.org>; "'Julian Reschke'" <julian.reschke@gmx.de 
> >; "'HTTP Working Group'" <ietf-http-wg@w3.org>; <www-tag@w3.org>
> Sent: Tuesday, July 14, 2009 9:11 PM
> Subject: Re: Review of new HTTPbis text for 303 See Other
>> Thanks Larry. I wish I could talk with such clarity.
>> I want to take the discussion with Pat a bit further, but will do  
>> so off-list. (Tomorrow, Pat -- I need to mull it over a bit.)
>> I initially joined the thread to say this: The HTTP spec, with  
>> Roy's proposed new 303 text, accommodates all Semantic Web use  
>> cases I can think of. Including using HTTP URIs to denote people.  
>> It's good to see httpRange-14 slowly "trickle down" into the specs.
>> Cheers,
>> Richard
>> On 14 Jul 2009, at 21:46, Larry Masinter wrote:
>>> This conversation is filling my mailbox. Some general
>>> observations:
>>> (Pat, your arguments are laced with ad hominem, which makes reading
>>> the dialog unpleasant. I don't think Richard is being
>>> silly, intellectually dishonest, bloody arrogant, or any of the
>>> other terms you've used, please refrain.)
>>> It's the nature of standards discussions that people speak
>>> their point of view; doing so isn't arrogant.
>>> It is the nature of technical specifications that it is frequently
>>> necessary to take normal English words in particular technical
>>> way; it is not intellectually dishonest to do so.
>>> It is good practice for technical specifications in standards
>>> groups to say as little as possible in order to meet the
>>> needs of interoperability and the purpose for which the
>>> specification is being written.
>>> It is not necessary or even possible for a technical specification
>>> to answer questions that may be fundamental for applications
>>> that are outside of its scope. It is common, reasonable,
>>> and traditional for standards specifications to "not answer"
>>> questions because answering the question isn't necessary
>>> for the purpose for which the standard was written.
>>> It isn't necessary for the proper functioning of the web and
>>> to accomplish interoperability of web clients and servers
>>> to agree on how to use HTTP URIs and the HTTP protocol --
>>> for that purpose, it isn't necessary to answer the question
>>> of whether a HTTP URI can identify a person.
>>> It may be necessary to answer the question in a technical
>>> specification for the semantic web and in the RDF
>>> specification  -- but the answer more likely
>>> belong in those specifications and not in the
>>> IETF HTTP specification.
>>> It may be necessary for the IETF HTTP specification
>>> be edited in a way that made it clear that it didn't
>>> contain the answer to this question, but I'm not
>>> sure where to draw the line of describing things
>>> it doesn't answer.
>>> It's easy to imagine a system in which a URI is used
>>> to identify a person for the purpose of that system.
>>> But I can't see how IETF, W3C, or continued discussion
>>> on any of our mailing lists are going to converge
>>> any time soon on answers to the philosophical questions
>>> that have been with us for millennia. What is it
>>> that "Pat Hayes" identifies, anyway? Can I use
>>> mailto:phayes@ihmc.us as a URI to identify you?
>>> Well, that's a question outside of the "mailto:"
>>> URI spec, I think.
>>> Perhaps  there needs to be a better way of distinguishing
>>> the statements "this specification does not limit the scope
>>> of applicability" and "this specification applies in all
>>> circumstances".
>>> If you had some better way of phrasing it so that it would
>>> be clear the former was meant rather than the latter, I
>>> think that would be helpful.
>>> The fact that something "does matter" -- to you, to the
>>> RDF community, to the W3C, to the world at large --
>>> does not mean that it is appropriate to "matter" in
>>> the context of the HTTP spec.
>>> It is an important design principle for developing
>>> specifications to keep specifications orthogonal: for the purposes
>>> of the HTTP protocol, it does not matter what resources
>>> are exactly. For the purpose of resource identification, it should
>>> not matter what the protocol is; tying semantic web
>>> interpretation to a particular error code in the HTTP
>>> protocol seems like bad design to me.
>>> The idea that the HTTP working group should care about the
>>> semantic web and change its specification to meet some
>>> semantic web requirement for use of HTTP URIs in semantic
>>> web applications  -- well, that raises several red flags
>>> for me, that we're building specifications that are not
>>> sufficiently orthogonal that things that *shouldn't* matter
>>> are taken as important questions that *must* be answered.
>>> The HTTP specification is *not* about what a "resource" is.
>>> It *is* about how to use and implement the HTTP protocol.
>>> There continues to be some confusion in the discussion between
>>> "URI" and "HTTP URI" that I find disturbing and confusing, because
>>> I think sometimes statements about one are attributed to the
>>> other. Not all URIs are HTTP URIs. Please try to be more careful.
>>> Regards,
>>> Larry
>>> -- 
>>> http://larry.masinter.net

Mark Nottingham     http://www.mnot.net/
Received on Thursday, 16 July 2009 03:11:46 UTC

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