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Re: Are generic resources intentional?

From: Jonathan Rees <jar@creativecommons.org>
Date: Fri, 29 May 2009 10:52:28 -0400
Message-ID: <760bcb2a0905290752l4d3b5e57s950fb93c0d979d6c@mail.gmail.com>
To: David Booth <david@dbooth.org>
Cc: AWWSW TF <public-awwsw@w3.org>
On Fri, May 29, 2009 at 9:47 AM, David Booth <david@dbooth.org> wrote:
> I think I may understand phlogiston better than "intent" :) so I'm not
> very hot on trying to capture "intent".  I'll get to an alternate
> suggestion in a moment, but first a brief recap.

How about if we call it "phlogiston" then.

> During our last call we identified a key difference between ftrr:IR
> (function from time and requests to representations) and how TimBL
> describes Generic Resource (GR): a GR can have identity beyond merely
> being a function from time and requests to representations.  I.e., two
> GRs with exactly the same "trace" can still be different GRs.

We also clearly did *not* establish that there was a GR for every
possible trace (or ftrr).
So if there is an ftrr that is not the trace of any GR, that would be
another difference. This is what I was starting to get at with my questions
about GRs having the top and bottom traces.

> After puzzling about this a while, two things occurred to me:
> 1. In usage, my notion of an "information resource" (IR) as ftrr:Ir may
> not be in conflict with TimBL's notion of GR.  In "Denotation as a
> Two-Step Mapping in Semantic Web Architecture"
> http://dbooth.org/2009/denotation/
> I have argued that we should think of a URI's

Wait a minute - as evidenced by the Moby Dick example, we are talking
ontology here, completely independently of URIs, the semantic web, or
any other particular notational
or technological device.  Our discussion is aimed toward reverse engineering
the language-game Tim plays around "information resource", and capturing
whatever we discover in a rational framework (which may be rendered in
prose, RDF, or some other notation - prose is certainly easier to manipulate
and reason about on a first pass, as evidenced by its continued use in the
mathematics literature). This bit of infrastructure does not figure
into that story,
it is a use case for the story.

> resource identity in terms
> of a set of assertions that constrain the permissible interpretations
> for that URI.  This means, for example, that it is perfectly reasonable
> for a URI to denote an "information resource" (IR) but *also* have
> attributes beyond those that are due to being an IR.  Two URIs could
> have the same IR attributes but they could differ in other attributes.
> Thus, the IR *aspects* of the two resources would be the same -- those
> are the aspects that are relevant to the HTTP protocol, for example --
> though they would not be the same resource in every respect.  This may
> be a way to reconcile TimBL's notion of GR with ftrr:IR.

Our aim is to make a *single* ontology using whatever philosophical
basis we can agree on. If there are two classes A and B in the
ontology, then either
they must be the same, they must be different, or we will have decided to
throw our hands up and leave the ontology so incomplete that there
is no way to decide (i.e. one person might interpret 'A' and 'B' as naming
the same class, while another might interpret them to name different ones -
a situation just begging for miscommunication and confusion).

(When people talk about the irrelevance of unrealistic boundary cases
I think this reflects a justifiable desire for incompleteness, since supposedly
no one really cares how to interpret the boundary cases. I use boundary
cases as probes to try to draw out what someone means by what they say,
and if the answer is "I refuse to answer that" that just means I've failed to
snare a chance to improve my understanding and I have to try another

If you have two distinct GRs with the same trace, then in order to prove that
there is a consistent interpretation (model) in which ftrr = GR, you
have to show which
two ftrrs those GRs correspond to. The natural mapping in which a GR corresponds
to the ftrr that is its trace would fail.

> 2. If GRs can have identity beyond merely being ftrr:IRs (or,
> equivalently, beyond their "traces") exactly what attributes can or
> cannot they have?  For example, dc:author sounded permissible, but what
> other attributes?  I think this question might be fruitful to explore.

I agree.  By introducing "intent" I just wanted to give a name to these
missing dimensions so we can start to reverse engineer them. I considered
"authorship" and "meaning" but they're not quite right, as scientific data
and the babbling of robots are not "authored" and random numbers
have no "meaning". So I chose a more slippery placeholder.


> David Booth
> On Thu, 2009-05-28 at 08:48 -0400, 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 - ?
>> ...
> --
> David Booth, Ph.D.
> Cleveland Clinic (contractor)
> Opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily
> reflect those of Cleveland Clinic.
Received on Friday, 29 May 2009 14:53:01 UTC

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