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Technical Historical Minutiae [was RE: ISSUE-288 (includeNonMandatedHeuristics): Should the Content Transformation Guidelines include a non normative list of mobile heuristics ? [Guidelines for Web Content Transformation Proxies]]

From: Jo Rabin <jrabin@mtld.mobi>
Date: Wed, 11 Mar 2009 17:53:04 -0000
Message-ID: <C8FFD98530207F40BD8D2CAD608B50B401BC89B5@mtldsvr01.DotMobi.local>
To: "Rotan Hanrahan" <rotan.hanrahan@mobileaware.com>, "MWI BPWG Public" <public-bpwg@w3.org>
I'm conscious that this conversation has moved on from the substance of
the heading, namely non-normative list of heuristics and the associated
topic of normative heuristics and I'd like to draw this conversation to
a close under its current heading with the following observation.

> I have been following the correspondence as much as I can manage. One

> But the problem, from my perspective, is that too much energy is being
> put into the technical/historical minutia, when the bigger picture
> remains, as I explained in my original comments.

Well, politely, I disagree. Over the last few days I have reviewed the
entire list for the last 4 months. I'd say that the almost the entirety
of discussion, where it does not involve Luca, is positive, respectful
and to the point. 

I invite you to review past Last Call comments from respected folks over
at IETF and colleagues in W3C. I think you'll see that technical
minutiae of HTTP are a popular subject amongst them that we must respect
and address, not to mention that we have to get the HTTP details right,
of course.

As you say you think we are missing something in regard of the
explaining the big picture I'd welcome some specific suggestions as to
improvements that could be put into the document to reflect your view.
If you could raise an ISSUE on that so it can properly be tracked that
would be great.

thanks
Jo

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Rotan Hanrahan [mailto:rotan.hanrahan@mobileaware.com]
> Sent: 11 March 2009 17:21
> To: Jo Rabin; MWI BPWG Public
> Subject: RE: ISSUE-288 (includeNonMandatedHeuristics): Should the
> Content Transformation Guidelines include a non normative list of
> mobile heuristics ? [Guidelines for Web Content Transformation
Proxies]
> 
> > Perhaps you've not been following
> > the ins and outs of correspondence on the list closely, and you
could
> be
> > forgiven for that. However, since it was said in response to this
> over
> > stated claim, I think it's quite reasonable by way of a refutation
of
> an
> > unreasonably put point.
> 
> I have been following the correspondence as much as I can manage. One
> claim (from Luca) was that the group was attempting to "present
> transcoders as some kind of standard", which was countered (by Tom)
> with
> a reference to the HTTP specification section 14.9.5, which deals with
> the No-Transform Directive, the motivation for its existence and no
> less
> than 5 use cases (memory space, network traffic, medical images,
> scientific data and e2e authentication) all in just three paragraphs.
> What was not said by the correspondents, and perhaps should have been,
> is that this suggests that those who drafted the specification were
> giving serious consideration to the pros and cons of proxy
> transformation, and making some provision to control it. At least from
> the perspective of what was considered to be proxy technology at the
> time. Luca responded to the reference by suggesting it was only about
> bandwidth optimisation. In fact, there is ample evidence in the
> specification that the authors had more than just a passing knowledge
> of
> the issues. For example, elsewhere in 14.11 they say "a
non-transparent
> proxy MAY modify the content-coding if the new coding is known to be
> acceptable to the recipient," showing an awareness of delivery context
> sensitivity; and there is the description of the "Warning" mechanism,
> showing acceptance of the need to convey some information about
> intermediate activities to the users.
> 
> Like you, I don't claim to know what the specification authors had in
> mind. I only have what they wrote. And like you, I don't try to draw
> conclusions from a single example within the cited specification. I'm
> trying to grasp the bigger picture. Careful inspection shows that the
> authors may have been considering a broader scope for transforming
> proxies, but this was not made concrete in the specification. The
> situation today is certainly much more complex than it was when the
> specification was drafted.
> 
> The reference (to refute the "hack" moniker) required a little more
> depth/exploration, and the refutation of the reference was dismissive
> (and a little impolite).
> 
> But the problem, from my perspective, is that too much energy is being
> put into the technical/historical minutia, when the bigger picture
> remains, as I explained in my original comments.
> 
> ---Rotan.
> 
> 
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Jo Rabin [mailto:jrabin@mtld.mobi]
> Sent: 11 March 2009 16:10
> To: Rotan Hanrahan; MWI BPWG Public
> Subject: RE: ISSUE-288 (includeNonMandatedHeuristics): Should the
> Content Transformation Guidelines include a non normative list of
> mobile
> heuristics ? [Guidelines for Web Content Transformation Proxies]
> 
> Nice piece, Rotan, thanks.
> 
> A couple of specific points.
> 
> > delivered to specific contexts in specific ways. My concern would be
> > that this list would be considered definitive, and that there would
> be
> > some providers of transcoding solutions who would think their duty
to
> > authors was complete so long as the list was adhered to. The real
> point
> 
> Yes my concern too.
> 
> > unwelcome. If we did not allow some flexibility in representations,
> > society would still be reading the ancient texts on goatskin, we'd
> > still be listening to the Beatles on vinyl, and the only place to
see
> > the works of the great artists would be in the museums.
> 
> Yes, that's why I think that making such a list normative has the
> potential of having regressive effects - in that we expect the Web to
> move on and develop in the way it has to date. We should make it
clear,
> if it is not already, that we expect reasonable efforts to be applied
> and not just lip service to the letter of the law. I am not sure how
> that translates into a conformance statement, though.
> 
> > I am also dismayed to see throw-away references, such as the one-
> liner
> > from Tom, which could be so much better if their relevance to the
> > debate were elaborated when introduced.
> 
> I took that as being a response to the notion that Transformation is
an
> un-Web activity, a hack or whatever. Perhaps you've not been following
> the ins and outs of correspondence on the list closely, and you could
> be
> forgiven for that. However, since it was said in response to this over
> stated claim, I think it's quite reasonable by way of a refutation of
> an
> unreasonably put point.
> 
> I don't claim to know what was in the authors' minds when they wrote
> that section of HTTP. I don't think it's reasonable to infer from the
> single example that they state that that was all they had in mind. The
> reference cited is open ended.
> 
> > debate were elaborated when introduced. And my dismay is compounded
> by
> > unnecessary "name calling" that peppers the environment, a
temptation
> > that regrettably takes hold of Luca from time to time. I understand
> 
> Generally I think the list is actually very polite and respectful,
> which
> is quite unusual.
> 
> > Personally, I
> > like the idea of reading Shakespeare on my e-book while listening to
> > the MP3 version of "All You Need Is Love"...
> 
> Takes all sorts. :-)
> 
> Jo
> 
> 
> 
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: public-bpwg-request@w3.org [mailto:public-bpwg-request@w3.org]
> On
> > Behalf Of Rotan Hanrahan
> > Sent: 11 March 2009 00:25
> > To: MWI BPWG Public
> > Subject: RE: ISSUE-288 (includeNonMandatedHeuristics): Should the
> > Content Transformation Guidelines include a non normative list of
> > mobile heuristics ? [Guidelines for Web Content Transformation
> Proxies]
> >
> > The Web seems to be the one place in the world of publishing where
> > there is an overwhelming (and incorrect) believe by all except the
> > content originators that copyright doesn't exist.
> >
> > The problems of unsolicited derivative works, rampant plagiarism,
> > phishing and the growing dependence on network security as the
> backbone
> > of our digital society, were not envisaged at the time when the
> > simplistic transcoding proxy examples were devised.
> >
> > Tom may have just pointed to the genesis of the problem, emphasising
> > the chasm between then and now. Back then it all seemed so simple
and
> > innocent. Today is different, and unless we find a way to establish
> > boundaries and police our activities, we could descend into chaos.
> > Eventually, most of our intellectual output will be Web based,
> > supplanting the dominance of paper that has held sway for countless
> > generations. It would be a sad time for humanity if this transition
> to
> > the Web was accompanied by a loss of recognition for those who
create
> > the content in the first place.
> >
> > I have long said that it is necessary to find the right balance.
> > Respect for what the author intended (where known, or knowable),
what
> > the reader prefers (including more/less capabilities) and for those
> > whose role is to convey the content from author to reader. In the
> > absence of any evidence from the author with respect to publication
> > intentions, one can reasonably assume that the content is made Web-
> > accessible merely for the purpose of consumption, without regard to
> how
> > it is consumed. As the author increases the effort, such as taking
> > steps to ensure it is effective in certain delivery contexts, there
> > should be corresponding respect for fidelity to this effort. Of
> course,
> > a consumer of such carefully crafted content may still be incapable
> of
> > benefitting from the author's efforts due to certain limitations
> (human
> > incapacity being just one example), so the fair thing to do in this
> > case is make use of mankind's technological advances, and adapt the
> > delivery where possible. Most authors would have no problem with
> this.
> > Indeed they would applaud the expanded audience.
> >
> > Luca, I believe, has been railing against the possibility that we,
> the
> > Internet/Web industry, would countenance an absence of fairness and
> > respect for the wishes of authors and the balancing needs of
> consumers.
> > The presence, and actions, of an intermediate actor in the
> interaction
> > between author and consumer is one of great power. Potentially power
> > for considerable good, but equally power that can be abused. The
W3C,
> > and others, have recognised the significance of this problem and it
> is
> > good to see that some progress is being made (though much more needs
> to
> > be done).
> >
> > However, I am dismayed that the argument spends so much of its time
> > mired in technical nuance. The real issue is in the greater sphere
of
> > society, the role of creativity, the respect for that which is
> created,
> > and the recognition of the need to share creations with everyone
> > irrespective of their contextual circumstances (device capabilities
> > being just one tiny facet of this).
> >
> > I am also dismayed to see throw-away references, such as the one-
> liner
> > from Tom, which could be so much better if their relevance to the
> > debate were elaborated when introduced. And my dismay is compounded
> by
> > unnecessary "name calling" that peppers the environment, a
temptation
> > that regrettably takes hold of Luca from time to time. I understand
> > your passion, and share many of your concerns, though I would never
> > express them in such florid ways.
> >
> > So, to the point in question. A non-normative list of mobile
> heuristics
> > might be a practical way of showing a would-be intermediate
> transcoder
> > how to determine if content visible on the Web was intended to be
> > delivered to specific contexts in specific ways. My concern would be
> > that this list would be considered definitive, and that there would
> be
> > some providers of transcoding solutions who would think their duty
to
> > authors was complete so long as the list was adhered to. The real
> point
> > is that transcoders should respect all parties, and continue to
> improve
> > upon their means of analysis. Only when they have exhausted such
> > analysis should they take the position that the content they are
> > observing is open to transformation, and even then, they should only
> > execute such transformations where the actual delivery context
> demands
> > it.
> >
> > Transformation has a role, and this includes intermediates, and is
to
> > be welcomed when it serves the greater good. Absolutist positions
are
> > unwelcome. If we did not allow some flexibility in representations,
> > society would still be reading the ancient texts on goatskin, we'd
> > still be listening to the Beatles on vinyl, and the only place to
see
> > the works of the great artists would be in the museums. Personally,
I
> > like the idea of reading Shakespeare on my e-book while listening to
> > the MP3 version of "All You Need Is Love"...
> >
> > ---Rotan.
> >
> > Disclosure: We are providers of a server-side transformation
> solution,
> > which can also act as a proxy but only under the direct control of
> the
> > content author. We do not provide indiscriminate transformation
proxy
> > solutions, and those that are already deployed by other vendors have
> a
> > tendency to disrupt the legitimate business of our customers who are
> > making huge efforts to delivery excellent mobile experiences via our
> > products. We accept that intermediate content transformation
> solutions
> > will likely be here to stay, and we respect the legitimate role they
> > can play, so long as there is fairness and respect for all parties.
> >
> >
> >
> > ____________________________
> > Dr Rotan Hanrahan
> > Chief Innovations Architect
> > Mobileaware Ltd
> >
> > 4 St Catherines Lane West
> > The Digital Hub
> > Dublin 8, Ireland
> > E: rotan.hanrahan@mobileaware.com
> > W: www.MobileAware.com
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> >
> >
> >
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: public-bpwg-request@w3.org [mailto:public-bpwg-request@w3.org]
> On
> > Behalf Of Luca Passani
> > Sent: 10 March 2009 22:59
> > To: MWI BPWG Public
> > Subject: Re: ISSUE-288 (includeNonMandatedHeuristics): Should the
> > Content Transformation Guidelines include a non normative list of
> > mobile heuristics ? [Guidelines for Web Content Transformation
> Proxies]
> >
> >
> > toxic nonsense, Tom. The  same kind which got you ejected from
> > WMLProgramming in the end.
> >
> > The fact that a specification mentions (as part of an example!) that
> > some proxies may save some bandwidth (in 1999's Internet) by
reducing
> > the size of pictures is *so* distant from what we are seeing today
> > with
> > transcoders (producing derivative work of content they have no
rights
> > to, removing essential headers, adding banners and toolbars,
breaking
> > HTTPS) that I wonder if you are simply trying to make fun of
everyone
> > here.
> >
> > Either that or you deserve to go work for Novarra!
> >
> > Luca
> >
> > Tom Hume wrote:
> > > The concept of transforming proxies (transcoders) is presented in
> > > RFC2616, section 14.9.5
> > >
> > > On 10 Mar 2009, at 20:25, Luca Passani wrote:
> > >
> > >> I don't disagree. The problem is that this is a consequence of
how
> > >> transcoders work. They are intrinsically a hack. The group has
> been
> > >> desperately trying to present transcoders as some kind of
> standard,
> > >> but this is like putting lipstick on a pig. A hack they were and
a
> > >> hack they remain.
> >
> >
Received on Wednesday, 11 March 2009 17:53:42 UTC

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