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Raising a new issue on the need for a statement on the roles and mutual respect of author/user/transformer.

From: Rotan Hanrahan <rotan.hanrahan@mobileaware.com>
Date: Thu, 12 Mar 2009 11:52:40 -0000
Message-ID: <D5306DC72D165F488F56A9E43F2045D301E9FE0B@FTO.mobileaware.com>
To: "MWI BPWG Public" <public-bpwg@w3.org>
Jo has invited me to raise an ISSUE, so that something more specific
relating to the CT document can be considered. I have already presented
the background to my concerns in [1], and I now add this email to raise
the ISSUE, which I hope will be added to the Issue Tracker.

= Summary =

Absent some indication from the author of the original content, it is
fair to presume that an author publishes content via the Web knowing
that "Web-like things" may happen to that content, but also having an
expectation that such Web-like things would be "reasonable". Where the
author has provided some indication of how the content should be
treated, this should be respected. Nevertheless, it is also fair to
assume that publication via the Web has an implicit intent of
publication to the widest possible audience. Where there are users
within that Web audience who, for whatever reason, have trouble
consuming the content, the architecture of the Web provides for remedial
action via a transforming proxy. That proxy must take into account the
gap between what the author provided (and intended) versus what the user
can consume (and prefers). Authors, users and transformers should
cooperate to help the Web reach its full potential, specifically: all
can publish, all can consume.

= Issue =

= = =
ISSUE: The CT document is missing some statement recognising the role
and expectations of the main parties (author, consumer, transformer) and
the need for mutual understanding and respect of the others'
needs/expectations. Perhaps also some suggestion from the BPWG on how to
prioritize the different needs/expectations would be useful, as a
general principal, especially given that there will be conflicts to
resolve.
= = =

= Illustration =

I think this issue could be addressed by a sentence or two in the
introduction, to which we can refer when consider the technical matters
elsewhere. For example, with the principle of mutual fair respect, one
could examine the technical suggestion (4.1.5.3) for "User Selection of
Restructured Experience" and ask questions like:
- Does this respect the efforts of an author to provide alternative
representations?
- Does this respect the need of a user to obtain alternative
representations?
- Does the proxy fairly take into account the gap between author and
user?
- Is it fair to allow the user to select the proxy's representation over
that of the author?

In the above example, the first three points appear to be in keeping
with a principle of mutual respect. The last point shows the potential
tension between author and user, but the CT guidance suggests that it is
the user who makes the decision (not the proxy) and we should also
consider the assumption of "Web-like things" happening to what you
publish, in which case the user's choice prevails. Thus 4.1.5.3 appears
to be reasonable.

However, an explicit indication from the author that transformation not
permitted would show that the author was not making an assumption
regarding Web-like things happening. Perhaps in this case the author's
representation should prevail. Personally I would find such an attitude
by the author to be narrow and short-sighted because the author would be
intentionally limiting the Web audience, ignoring what is technically
possible today and what might be possible in the future. Unfortunately,
the existing mechanisms (e.g. HTTP No-Transform) are not expressive
enough. I'd like there to be a HTTP Avoid-Transform, so that there's
flexibility to do the right thing under circumstances we can't predict,
but I know that creating new technology is out of scope.

= Closing =

We in MobileAware have considered what this means for our own
products/services. We aim to give an excellent end-user experience
regardless of the browsing device, and we hope that any intermediary
would respect our efforts by not transforming our content unless the
user's circumstances strongly demand it. At some time in the future
there may be some unanticipated delivery context (e.g. the spherical
display of a holographic browser) and rather than deny people access to
our content via such an amazing device we would accept an intermediary
stepping in to do additional adaptation. Indeed, we might even work
directly with an intermediary to help them adapt our content to the
niche market of spherical holographic displays. It's all about mutual
respect.

---Rotan.

[1] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-bpwg/2009Mar/0073.html
Received on Thursday, 12 March 2009 11:53:23 UTC

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