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Are generic resources intentional?

From: Jonathan Rees <jar@creativecommons.org>
Date: Thu, 28 May 2009 08:48:41 -0400
Message-ID: <760bcb2a0905280548k40d400e7m6239d5025f439950@mail.gmail.com>
To: AWWSW TF <public-awwsw@w3.org>
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.

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
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. But if we set aside the AWWW
definition of IR, and instead talk about the Tim-derived GR model, we
can say that something that has a wa-representation that is a numeral
designating the 46th Mersenne prime is a perfectly fine GR, since the
*intent* is to communicate the digits of the 46th Mersenne prime;
while the number itself does not carry any intent and is therefore not
a GR.

More generally, "intent" explains why GRs are contingent on the real
world, as opposed to being purely mathematical constructions, while
still being able to withstand any Xiaoshu-like attempts at giving them
mass and phsyical location.

If we can determine that
(a) "intent" is not vacuous, and
(b) "intent" is the *only* way that generic-resources can differ,
other than in their traces
then we will have a complete characterization of generic resources: GR
= trace + intent.

I read this and find "intent" to be very similar to "phlogiston", but
remember that chemistry had its origins in alchemy.


Appendix: Use cases
1. http://random.org/integers/?num=100&min=1&max=100&col=5&base=10&format=html&rnd=new
  - yes
2. Moby Dick  -yes
3. Beethoven's 7th  - yes
4. 46 Mersenne Prime  - no
5. A 19th-century publication that has no URI yet (possibly ever) - yes
6. data:text/plain,intent_depends_on_context  - no? (doesn't imply
intent; only names a trace)
7. function from time and request to representation - no (doesn't
imply intent; only names a trace)
8. "network data object" a la RFC 2616 - some of them, yes, if you
take this to mean "generic resource deployed on a network"
9. "network service" a la RFC 2616 - ?
Received on Thursday, 28 May 2009 12:49:13 UTC

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