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Re: Definition of "Resource"

From: Richard Cyganiak <richard@cyganiak.de>
Date: Mon, 28 May 2012 19:03:34 +0100
Cc: <public-rdf-comments@w3.org>
Message-Id: <4E310F54-4743-49AA-8BA5-F9F6D8457BDA@cyganiak.de>
To: <grantsr@gmail.com>
Hi Grant,

On 28 May 2012, at 16:19, Grant Robertson wrote:
> As a technical writer, when writing about this topic I would simply state
> what "resource" means within the context of what I am currently writing.
> Then I would simply use the word "resource" all by itself. Even though I
> have essentially redefined the word "resource," that redefinition is well
> within the expected type of redefinition for that word. My definition is
> merely a narrowing of the existing definition based upon how things within
> that universe of everything are either accessed or referred to. That is an
> accepted form of redefinition for the word "resource" and does not add too
> much cognitive load. If I were writing or speaking in a broader context that
> may include other kinds of "resources" then I would add an adjective before
> the word "resource" or say something like "in the context of web
> technologies" after it. The adjective used would depend upon what other
> contexts were being discussed. If I were disucssing HTML and RDF (and there
> was some subtle but important distinction in the definition of "resource"
> within the context of what I was writing) then I would likely use "HTML
> resource" and "RDF resource."  Within the context of that writing, people
> would know exactly what I meant. If, for some bizarre reason, I were
> discussing both energy resources and the "resources" more commonly discussed
> by this group (perhaps to illustrate the flexibility of a word like
> "resource"), then I would likely use the phrases "energy resource" and "web
> resource," having adequately defined each earlier in the writing. 

I think I'll take this on board for a bit and see how it works. Thanks.

(The RDF community needs more skilled technical writers, IMHO.)

> I know all this seems a little too "loosey goosey" for some people who have
> spent a lot of time in the computer science field or designing web
> standards. There is a strong desire to find a single word or phrase that
> will always mean the exact same thing in any context. A word or phrase that
> is not used anywhere else. Something that someone can google and always get
> the exact right definition. Unfortunately, all the current words are taken.

My rule of thumb is that in normative specification prose, every term needs to be either a word we'd find in the dictionary, or defined in some standard that is normatively referenced, or defined in the specification itself. And whenever possible, uses of the term should be hyperlinked to the definition.

> And none of the "synonyms" for "resource" are as wonderfully all-inclusive
> as "resource," which allows for it to include the universe of everything.
> This is why phrases that include "source" or "entity" cannot work. These
> words have built into them more narrow definitions that do not easily allow
> for them to include the universe of everything. "Source" means where
> something came from, not the thing itself. And "entity" refers to any
> "thing" but not any concept or relationship. 

(I'd disagree with that. “Resource” is web jargon; the normal meaning of the word is *much* narrower than “entity”. “Entity” means “anything that has existence”, which is sufficiently encompassing to include concepts and relationships. I agree that “source” is too narrow.)

Received on Monday, 28 May 2012 18:04:04 UTC

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