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RE: on documents and terms [was: RE: [WNET] new proposal WN URIs and related issues]

From: Dan Connolly <connolly@w3.org>
Date: Wed, 03 May 2006 09:45:00 -0500
To: "Booth, David (HP Software - Boston)" <dbooth@hp.com>
Cc: public-swbp-wg@w3.org
Message-Id: <1146667500.27608.1366.camel@dirk.w3.org>

On Fri, 2006-04-28 at 23:44 -0400, Booth, David (HP Software - Boston)
> > From:  Dan Connolly
> > . . .
> > Pat Hayes wrote:
> > > My current
> > > understanding is that an information resource is some thing 
> > > that can 
> > > be transmitted over a network by a transfer protocol. On this 
> > > understanding, one could argue that a word was an information 
> > > resource.
> > 
> > On Thu, 20 Apr 2006 17:40:20 -0400 Booth, David wrote: 
> > > It sounds like you are mainly disagreeing with the TAG's guidance.
> > 
> > For what it's worth, I think Pat's position is consistent 
> > with the TAG's position (i.e. the W3C's position, since 
> > webarch is now a W3C Recommendation).
> I'm surprised and baffled, since I thought Pat argued that it is okay
> for a URI to be used both as a name for a person and a name for a
> document that describes that person.  But I guess you're referring to
> this one point about a word being an information resource.

Yes, just the one point.

> > . . . The definition of "Information Resource" that W3C 
> > endorses[10] is:
> > . . .
> >
> http://www.w3.org/TR/2004/REC-webarch-20041215/#def-information-resource
> >
> > I don't think that means that words are not information resources.
> I think it may depend on what you mean by "words".  

I don't think so. I don't think there's any (reasonable) meaning
of "words" where the TAG has decided that w:InformationResource
has no intersection with it.

> If http://example.org/doc.html identifies a single resource, and the
> associated document is updated to correct typos, then clearly
> http://example.org/doc.html is identifying more than just the words that
> are *currently* served from that URI: it is identifying a document
> *abstraction*, rather than a particular document instance or a
> particular set of words.  I don't see how "all of [the] essential
> characteristics"[10] of that document *abstraction* can be "conveyed in
> a message"[10].

No? It seems to me that we do that pretty routinely.

In any case, I don't see the relevance of that example to the
question of whether w:InformationResource intersects wordnet:Synset.

A more relevant example is something like


If Adam Pease says that URI refers to the word "frog", I don't
see how that conflicts with anything the TAG has written. Adam
may correct typos in his representation(s) of the word frog.

(This is not to say that I think it would be wise; as I wrote
in my paper, "I suggest adopting w:InformationResource rdfs:subClassOf
frbr:Work as a practical constraint." and I don't think
wordnet synsets are frbr:Works. But maybe it's coherent to say
that some are. Hmm. anyway... I'm not giving advice here; just
trying to clarify the position of the TAG. ).

> Similarly, if http://weather.example.com/oaxaca identifies a single
> resource that is "a periodically updated report on the weather in
> Oaxaca"[10], then I don't see how "all of [the] essential
> characteristics"[10] of that periodically updated report can be
> "conveyed in a message"[10].

Again, it seems to me that we do this routinely. Maybe it takes
more than one message and webarch is a bit sloppy here. In any case...

> Because "information resources" can return different "representations"
> at different times (even if some happen to return the same
> representation every time), it seems to me that "information resources"
> are by their very nature abstract.  

Please be careful with your quantifiers. Your argument seems to go
   There are some information that have more than one
   representation and hence are abstract
   All information resources have more than one representation.

On the contrary, I think the IETF has made it pretty
clear that http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc822.txt has just
one representation. And they haven't done anything to
make the resource itself distinguishable from its
representation, so if they said the 2 are identical,
that would be coherent.

Likewise, W3C has bound the URI
to a particular sequence of bytes/characters.

> Clearly the notion of an "information resource" is modeled after the
> real life notion of the contents of a (logical) disk region, on a Web
> server, that is associated with a URI "racine".  (The "racine" is all of
> the URI except the fragment identifier.[11])  The server is configured
> to return those contents, whatever they are, when the URI racine is
> dereferenced.  And those contents may change over time!  Thus, the URI
> racine is not identifying any *particular* contents, it is identifying
> the logical *location* where those contents are stored, and the server
> provides whatever contents happen to be stored there at the moment they
> are requested.  

Yes, but W3C and the IETF promise that some parts of our disks
won't change.

> In fact, it is not even possible on the Web to create a URI that is
> permanently bound to a single document instance that can never change:

I gave 2 counter-examples above.

> it is *always* possible to change the server configuration or domain IP
> mapping to cause a different document instance to be served.

That would be a bug, in the 2 cases above.

>   In other
> words, an http URI on the real Web identifies a logical *location* whose
> content *always* has the potential of changing.

I don't agree.

>   Similarly (I argue), an
> "information resource" is *necessarily* abstract.  Thus, if something is
> not abstract, then it cannot be an "information resource".

I don't find this argument convincing.

> So returning to your comment about whether a word could be an
> "information resource", it depends on what you mean by "word".  If an
> alternate spelling of "color" is "colour", then we are referring to an
> abstract notion of a word, whose spelling may vary.  However, if you are
> referring to particular sequence of characters that can be transmitted
> over the network, that is a *concrete* notion of "word", and thus cannot
> be an "information resource".
> > 
> > I tried to cover this in a recent submission to IRW2006...
> > 
> > [[
> > Note that the TAG has not taken a position on whether
> >  w:InformationResource intersects with rdf:Property. ]]
> >  -- "An analysis of httpRange-14" section  
> > http://www.w3.org/2006/04/irw65/urisym#hr14
> Great paper!
> [8] TAG httpRange-14 decision:
> http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-tag/2005Jun/0039.html
> [9] Tim Bray's proposed definition of "information resource":
> http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-tag/2003Jul/0377.html
> [10] WebArch definition of "information resource":
> http://www.w3.org/TR/2004/REC-webarch-20041215/#def-information-resource
> [11] Definition of "racine":
> http://www.w3.org/2000/10/swap/log#racine
> David Booth
Dan Connolly, W3C http://www.w3.org/People/Connolly/
D3C2 887B 0F92 6005 C541  0875 0F91 96DE 6E52 C29E
Received on Wednesday, 3 May 2006 14:45:13 UTC

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