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Re: another crack at 'information resource'

From: Alan Ruttenberg <alanruttenberg@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, 10 Nov 2010 01:41:05 -0500
Message-ID: <AANLkTik9pRtecEGqOdWWd_MjUb=qYUp4xgJYoqd2pDx0@mail.gmail.com>
To: Jonathan Rees <jar@creativecommons.org>
Cc: AWWSW TF <public-awwsw@w3.org>
On Mon, Nov 8, 2010 at 12:50 PM, Jonathan Rees <jar@creativecommons.org> wrote:
> Another attempt at an 'information resource' theory.
>
> (I mean 'information resource' in a sense close to TimBL's, not
> in David's sense.)
>
> As I said earlier, if you assume you're doing design (architecture)
> and not ontology (what exists), the problem gets easier, since you're not
> constrained by reality, truth, etc.; you don't have to be able to
> "identify" information resources in the sense of pointing your
> finger at them, or falsify the "is a representation of" relation.

No? What is architecture?

> Rather than try to figure out what IRs are, let's try talking about what we
> would like to say about them, i.e. properties that they're supposed to
> have, and then if the question remains, speculate on what we'd like
> them to be like in general.

Shall we say what we mean by what we say?

> Many of the properties that one would like to assert are about
> content: author, title, date written or published, subject matter.
> These properties can vary from one observer to the next, or
> through time

How can they vary from one observer to the next, but not through time?
(you join these with an "or")

>: the author, etc. might vary, so we have to decide how
> the properties of the IR relate to the properties of its
> 'representations.'
>
> It doesn't do much good to assert a content property if it can't be
> corroborated by someone else observing the IR [credit Larry
> Masinter],

Even if someone observes the IR, they can't corroborate many of these
properties. How can observation of the resource corroborate author or
date written or published? In fact, the most valuable content
properties are those can can't be "corroborate" by observing the IR.
The ones than can can be simply recomputed each time.

> therefore I propose the
> principle that a content property is true of an information resource
> iff it's true of *all* of the resource's representations.  E.g.
>
> <http://www.w3.org/TR/2010/WD-rdfa-core-20100422/> dc:creator :Ben_Adida.
>
> The quantification is time-bounded in the same way any RDF statement
> is, thus reducing the time problem to one that's previously unsolved.
>
> A "fixed resource" in TimBL's sense of the word would be an IR that
> shares in all the content properties of its representation.

"shares in all" means?

> An annoyance: Suppose that Fred is the author of some
> representations of Z, and that Fred is not an author of
> some other representations of Z. We can infer that Fred
> is not an author of Z (assuming "is not an author of" is not
> considered a content property).  - This will surprise some people, but
> the alternatives are nasty.  Existential instead of universal
> quantification would very quickly lead to inconsistencies.
> Having the implication go only one way is too inferentially weak to be useful.
> Having no connection between representation properties and
> resource properties gets us back to total representation/resource divorce.
>
> There's another set of properties having to with ways the IR *does* vary,
> e.g. http://news.google.com/ is a news site (representations are
> lawfully related to current events), the weather in Oaxaca example from AWWW,
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Random ,
> http://www.w3.org/TR/rdfa-core/ (related in a particular way to a
> social process overseen by W3C), and so on.  The content
> properties of representations vary, but they do so in a regular way.
>
> This leads me to the suggestion that an IR is (or is induced by, or is
> pretty much the same as, or is characterized by, or is a theory of) a
> lawful regularity among representations.  (Compare computer science
> 'invariant'.  Also similar to API.) I don't see any way to make them
> more definite than that without tying them to their incarnations in
> ways we've been trying to avoid.  They are inventions, theories, phlogiston,
> monads. Like FRBR works or expressions only worse.
>
> Maybe IRs need a few more conditions.  I would think that physical
> realizability is a condition, i.e. if it can't be put on the web at
> least in principle, it doesn't qualify.

Isn't this effectively the "all of their essential characteristics can
be conveyed in a message" constraint?

> And of course our two
> conditions "no physical properties" and "not mathematical" -
> IRs are like other abstractions such as promises and songs in
> this regard, so we ought to be able to make those conditions stick.
>
> Here's something else I wrote today related to this:
> http://odontomachus.wordpress.com/2010/11/08/to-what-does-a-uri-refer/
>
> Jonathan
>
>
Received on Wednesday, 10 November 2010 06:41:54 GMT

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