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Fwd: Re: PROV-ISSUE-19: is this observable or not observable?

From: Luc Moreau <L.Moreau@ecs.soton.ac.uk>
Date: Wed, 08 Jun 2011 21:52:41 +0100
Message-ID: <EMEW3|1313d1ab83df4b9c150201dad39308c7n57Lqi08L.Moreau|ecs.soton.ac.uk|4DEFE119.9070303@ecs.soton.ac.uk>
To: Provenance Working Group WG <public-prov-wg@w3.org>

This was sent by Graham to me and not the list.

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: 	Re: PROV-ISSUE-19: is this observable or not observable?
Date: 	Wed, 8 Jun 2011 18:31:19 +0100
From: 	Graham Klyne <GK@ninebynine.org>
To: 	Luc Moreau <L.Moreau@ecs.soton.ac.uk>

Hi Luc,

Luc Moreau wrote:
>  The reason why I raised the issue is that over the WE, when discussing
>  with Kai, this notion of observability popped up.


My take on "observability" would be along the lines of there being an available
method by means of which information directly about the thing observed could be

For concepts, I would think this amounts to some way in which authoritative
information about the concept can be accessed.  For concepts for which there is
no such authoritative information, then they aren't (directly) observable, but
may be "indirectly observable" (which I would treat as not observable) though
(e.g.) assertions made by other people.

Example: "truth".  I don't suppose there's any way in which this concept is
directly observable.  But there are any number of philosophical discourses on
truth that might be cited as giving us indirect information about truth (e.g.
Tarski, Quine, etc.)

This suggests to me that we may want to have an identifier for the concept, even
if there are no direct "observations" associated with it;  I hazard that it has
no direct provenance.  But we can still say that Tarski, Quine, etc. say things
about the concept of truth.

It's a viewpoint ... with which you may reasonably disagree.  But I'd hate us to
get hopelessly tangled in this debate when there are other useful things we can
make progress on.  Would it be an option to say that for some things we don't
(yet) know whether or how they can be observed?


Luc Moreau wrote:
>  Hi Graham,
>  The reason why I raised the issue is that over the WE, when discussing
>  with Kai, this
>  notion of observability popped up. I think Jim also mentioned it in
>  another thread (apologies,
>  if I got it wrong).  In all fairness, I thought we had to discuss this.
>  Given that we have indicated that we want to track the provenance of
>  things, which may
>  be physical, digital, CONCEPTUAL or otherwise, I don't know what
>  observability means
>  when things are conceptual.
>  I take note of Carl's pointers to definitions of observability in the
>  physical world.
>  I would argue that even in the digital world, observability is not
>  straightforward.  In the provenance
>  challenge, we have seen techniques instrumenting code, i.e. adding
>  constructs to record provenance.
>  In that case, can we say the system observed what was happening? or was
>  it programmed to
>  record provenance synchronously with its execution?
>  Regards,
>  Luc
>  On 07/06/11 12:06, Graham Klyne wrote:
>>  May I suggest we see if this is an issue in light of the proposed
>>  definitions?
>>  #g
>>  -- 
>>  Luc Moreau wrote:
>>>  Dear all,
>>>  When we discussed the notion of 'Invariant View or Perspective on a
>>>  Thing, there were
>>>  suggestions that it should be observable, and counter-suggestions
>>>  that it should not be.
>>>  It would be good to discuss both sides of the argument, in an attempt
>>>  to reach consensus.
>>>  Best regards,
>>>  Luc
Received on Wednesday, 8 June 2011 20:53:25 UTC

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