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Re: Are generic resources intentional?

From: <noah_mendelsohn@us.ibm.com>
Date: Fri, 5 Jun 2009 10:02:17 -0400
To: Jonathan Rees <jar@creativecommons.org>
Cc: AWWSW TF <public-awwsw@w3.org>, "Williams, Stuart (HP Labs, Bristol)" <skw@hp.com>
Message-ID: <OFE1CE7C57.9B0FA5AC-ON852575CC.004D0901-852575CC.004D1FFC@lotus.com>
Just curious:  If Content-location is returned, does that count as part of 
the trace?  If so, then it seems that this issue only comes up in cases 
where the Content-location is not supplied. 


Noah Mendelsohn 
IBM Corporation
One Rogers Street
Cambridge, MA 02142

Jonathan Rees <jar@creativecommons.org>
Sent by: public-awwsw-request@w3.org
06/04/2009 03:53 PM
        To:     "Williams, Stuart (HP Labs, Bristol)" <skw@hp.com>
        cc:     AWWSW TF <public-awwsw@w3.org>, (bcc: Noah 
        Subject:        Re: Are generic resources intentional?

On Wed, Jun 3, 2009 at 6:17 AM, Williams, Stuart (HP Labs, Bristol)
<skw@hp.com> wrote:
> Hi Jonathan...
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: public-awwsw-request@w3.org
>> [mailto:public-awwsw-request@w3.org] On Behalf Of Jonathan Rees
>> Sent: 28 May 2009 13:49
>> Subject: Are generic resources intentional?
>> I've been puzzling over the question of how two generic-resources can
>> have the same trace by virtue of a difference in meaning, e.g. the use
>> case Tim gives where he and I both work at Burger King for a week and
>> end up with identical-looking time sheets (same trace), that are
>> really distinct generic-resources simply because of properties not
>> reflected in the traces.
> I'm not sure that I can buy the argument that these two timesheets can 
have the same traces. There have to be material differences otherwise 
either or both of you would gte paid twice, or some random other(s) would 
be collecting your wages.

The trace consists only of the wa-representations (as indexed by
parameter tuple, including time), and the traces are the same by
hypothesis. I asked Tim whether two distinct generic resources could
have the same trace, and he said yes, and gave the time sheet example.
As he's the authority on this ontology... well either this is just
true by definition, or we have to persuade him that this idea is not

The difference that lets us be paid separately is not in the material
evidence of the resource itself but rather in the state of the larger
Perhaps I tell the employer that the URI of my time sheet is U1, while
Tim says the URI of his time sheet is U2. U1 and U2 might have the
same trace, but that's OK because the employer might not even notice
that they do. The understanding of the two accounts resides outside
the resources themselves.

> Ok... lets allow that the wa-representations and indeed the traces of 
the timesheets carry no distinguishing marks that allow and observer to 
discriminate - I such a situation I think that you have only one resource 
that happens to have many names.

Personally I think this is a much more clear and sensible model than
the generic resource model, and probably a more useful one. When I
asked Tim the question I expected the answer you gave. But he said no,
so it's not the one under consideration.

Perhaps it should be added to the mix though, as a new kind of thing
to talk about.

However I should point out that in Roy's presentation there are many
REST-resources that don't have any wa-representations at all
("abstract concepts"). These would all have the same trace (i.e. the
empty trace). So this is more congruent to Tim's model than is your

Would you say that traces and these Stuart-resources are in 1-1
correspondence, or are there Stuart-resources that don't have traces
or traces that don't have Stuart-resources?

>> Allow me to call this difference "intent" - I won't define this but
>> Alan, don't jump all over me, build on what I say. It is the missing
>> dimension, the resource's "essential characteristic" that is not
>> conveyed in any wa-representation.
>> I don't know what "intent" is ontologically; I use the word as a
>> placeholder. It has to be quite broad, so that it allows me to say
>> that the GR named by
>> http://random.org/integers/?num=100&min=1&max=100&col=5&base=1
>> 0&format=html&rnd=new
>> has "intent" - namely the web site author's intent to satisfy the
>> world's hunger for white noise. Generally, we have grandfathered all
>> "web pages" just by saying that none of them are accidental
>> (unintentional) - someone went to the trouble of registering a domain
>> name, setting up a server, and deploying content. We also get Moby
>> Dick, since someone went to the trouble of writing it - it didn't fall
>> from the sky. And we get Finnegan's Wake and Beethoven's 7th for the
>> same reason even though know one knows what message they convey.
>> But I think "intent" can explain another use case Tim has given. He is
>> adamant that numbers, such as the 46th Mersenne prime, are not
>> information resources. I was puzzled by his refusal because it seems
>> very clear to me that all of its essential characteristics *can* be
>> conveyed in a message; I just did so.
> :-)... well not for me... I don't know what a "Mersenne prime" is let 
alone the 46th one, though that seem to clearly be descriptive of some 
ordinal position in a series. (/me heads for wikipedia).

Every definition - indeed every piece of communication - will require
prior knowledge for processing. That you happen to not know the words
I use does not make the definition different in kind from other
definitions, since one can never depend on all readers understanding
every word one uses in a definition. (E.g. someone might be a novice
in the English language, and might have to look up even the simplest
words in a dictionary.) In this particular case there is no argument
among mathematicians or anyone else what is meant by the phrase, and
it is easy for you to find determine what it means, e.g. via wikipedia
as you say.

Received on Friday, 5 June 2009 14:03:27 UTC

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