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Re: Proposed agenda

From: Jonathan Rees <jar@creativecommons.org>
Date: Mon, 23 Jun 2008 10:14:28 -0400
Message-ID: <760bcb2a0806230714se090e9bvf9d27ecfbc390174@mail.gmail.com>
To: "Booth, David (HP Software - Boston)" <dbooth@hp.com>
Cc: "public-awwsw@w3.org" <public-awwsw@w3.org>
On Mon, Jun 23, 2008 at 9:51 AM, Booth, David (HP Software - Boston) <
dbooth@hp.com> wrote:

> > From: Jonathan Rees [mailto:jar@creativecommons.org]
> >
> > With all due respect, regarding the memos you've directed us to, I
> > don't think it will be helpful at this point to talk about the
> > semantics of reference and binding in RDF.
> But I think that is the heart of the IR definition problem.  I don't think
> the IR definition problem *can* be satisfactorily answered without looking
> at what we mean by reference and identity.

I don't get this. What makes IRs special? Is it that maybe we aren't talking
about a class? But I hear statements from all group members of the form "x
is not an IR" and while they may be mysterious or controversial, they don't
seem ill-formed or semantically problematic.

> > . . .
> > When I make say things more vaguely and generally then they ought to
> > be said, I'm really trying to bait you all into fixing what I've said,
> Some statements cannot be fixed without first having a slightly different
> way of looking at the problem.  "When did you stop beating your wife?"
> cannot be properly answered without first changing the question.
> > . . .
> > I was therefore disappointed that in talking about the 'conundrum' you
> > didn't come up with your own classes - particular interpretations of
> > the vague categories I listed - for comparison with a putative IR
> > class. You did say we should "think about whether those entities have
> > the characteristics of an IR" - that's a great idea, but then you
> > didn't suggest any characteristics of an IR.
> There's a good reason why I didn't: it wouldn't help.  The question is
> posed in a way that presumes a line of thinking that is . . . well . . . not
> exactly wrong in the sense of being incorrect, but wrong in the sense of
> going in a direction that won't shed light on the problem.  No amount of
> discussion of whether an IR has mass, has a dc:title, has a number of pages,
> has a license, has spelling errors, etc., will help.

I don't understand this either. If you're saying it's not an ontology
problem, like that of coming up with the most fruitful way of talking about
chemical reactions or credit card accounts, then what sort of problem is

> >
> > So I propose to take up your question: What are the characteristics of
> > an IR?  Or more broadly, what *might* be, what *has to be*, what
> > *cannot be* the characteristics of an IR?
> If you believe what I've been saying about how resource identity works in
> semantic web architecture, then the answer is simple.  Assuming C is the set
> of core assertions for the definition of IR:
>  Q: What *might* be an IR?
>  A: Anything whose core assertions are logically consistent with C.
>  Q: What *has to be* an IR?
>  A: Anything whose core assertions subsume C.
>  Q: What *cannot be* an IR?
>  A: Anything whose core assertions are logically inconsistent with C.

OK. (Although this seems to contradict your assertion that in order to
define IR we need to get into questions of identity and reference.) Tell me
what you think C is and we'll have something to talk about. Well... you have
said one characteristic of an IR (an assertion in C) is that an IR is a
function, and I have balked at the idea that functions have authors. If
you're trying to play some trick, or apply a modification to the normative
RDF semantics, where the two statements can be made to be consistent, then I
can see why you might think this is a foundational problem and not an
ontology problem. Personally I don't think you should or need to say that an
IR is a function.

I don't disagree with your statement that identity is an issue, but that is
true of any ontology project (is the cow yesterday the same cow as the cow
today? is the rock I throw the same as the rock I use as a paperweight?) and
usually works itself out as one figures out what one needs to say or infer.

We're just trying to come up with some rules to guide decisions about what's
OK to say (and infer) in RDF. We seem to agree that we don't want to be
allowed to say that an IR has mass, Tim says that he doesn't want anyone
saying that a webarch:representation is an IR, Alan has said nothing
sensible can be said about content negotiation, etc. I don't see why we
can't do a bunch of what-ifs and build up an overall idea of what we want
said and what we don't want said.

> David Booth, Ph.D.
> HP Software
> +1 617 629 8881 office  |  dbooth@hp.com
> http://www.hp.com/go/software
> Statements made herein represent the views of the author and do not
> necessarily represent the official views of HP unless explicitly so stated.

Received on Monday, 23 June 2008 14:15:05 UTC

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