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Re: Are generic resources intentional?

From: Pat Hayes <phayes@ihmc.us>
Date: Thu, 28 May 2009 08:46:37 -0500
Cc: AWWSW TF <public-awwsw@w3.org>
Message-Id: <F2451547-5065-4411-9FBD-C3F4BBC54FDB@ihmc.us>
To: Jonathan Rees <jar@creativecommons.org>
Reading this, seems to me (provisionally) that "having intent" might  
be rephrased as "being an artifact"; that is, existing as the result  
of agency of some kind rather than a natural process. (?) If so, that  
might be a nice connection with some traditional philosophical  
distinctions that have stood the test of time; and it avoids having to  
say what intent "is". And it has the advantage, I'd suggest, of  
focusing on the thing rather than the innards of the mind of its  
creator, which is always going to be a black box/hole.


On May 28, 2009, at 7:48 AM, Jonathan Rees wrote:

> 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
> http://random.org/integers/?num=100&min=1&max=100&col=5&base=10&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. 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.
> Jonathan
> 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 - ?
> ...

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Received on Thursday, 28 May 2009 13:47:48 UTC

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