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Re: comments on Web Architecture First Edition

From: Dan Connolly <connolly@w3.org>
Date: Mon, 29 Mar 2004 15:52:51 -0600
To: Pat Hayes <phayes@ihmc.us>
Cc: public-webarch-comments@w3.org, w3c-rdfcore-wg@w3.org
Message-Id: <1080597171.2471.1772.camel@dirk>

On Wed, 2004-03-17 at 16:38, Pat Hayes wrote:
> The following are some personal comments on
> http://www.w3.org/TR/2003/WD-webarch-20031209/
> Sorry they're late.
> 
> ------
> 
> 1. General comment about vocabulary
> 
> The vocabulary used throughout this document can be understood in two
> rather different ways,

yes...

>  which conflict with one another.

Do they? Are you quite sure? I have heard this claimed many times,
and I have never seen a convincing argument. I am looking at
your comments for just the 2nd time; the first time was just
a quick skim.

Your claim sounds very reminiscent of
  "The Myth of Names and Addresses"
  http://www.w3.org/DesignIssues/NameMyth.html
I cite that not as an argument from the TAG, but as
evidence that this line of argument is perennially raised,
but not persuasively.

[...]
> In particular, in sense (C), but not in sense (D), there is a
> presumption of a computable or effective process which can be applied
> to the identifier to provide access to the entity identified;

no, I don't believe there is any such presumption in the webarch
document.


[...]

> 2. Hunting down what is meant by "resource".
[...]
> The latter (D) interpretation seems to be insisted upon by the cited
> documenthttp://gbiv.com/protocols/uri/rev-2002/rfc2396bis.html
> which reads:
> "Resource
>     Anything that can be named or described can be a resource.
> Familiar examples include an electronic document, an image, a service
> (e.g., "today's weather report for Los Angeles"), and a collection of
> other resources. A resource is not necessarily accessible via the
> Internet; e.g., human beings, corporations, and bound books in a
> library can also be resources. Likewise, abstract concepts can be
> resources, such as the operators and operands of a mathematical
> equation or the types of a relationship (e.g., "parent" or
> "employee"). "
> 
> Which could be paraphrased as "A resource can be anything, and
> everything is a resource".

yes, quite.

>  I note particularly the phrasing "named or described". (I also note
> in passing that the first three "familiar" examples are hardly typical
> of entities in general, and that the examples do not include such
> things as galaxies, atoms, grains of sand; kinds of material such as
> steel or wood; holes, times, locations, intervals; natural processes
> such as flows and movements; and many other categories of entity which
> have been the subject of formal ontological descriptions. Are these
> omissions deliberate?)

I don't think so. As I recall, we just haven't much reason
to say that wood is a resource.

> The only example given in the document is disturbingly vague at
> precisely this critical point: the resource is the "Oaxaca Weather
> Report". But what KIND of thing is that,

It's a resource.

You seem to feel we need to constrain it more. I don't think
there's any need to.

>  and how exactly is it related to the URI and the "representation" of
> it?  (see later for more on that word)

in that case, it's related by some HTTP protocol messages.

> Several different answers are consistent with what you say about the
> example.

And so...? 

This seems to be a comment that web architecture is incompletely
specified. Yes, it is.

But earlier, you seemed to be claiming that the webarch document
is inconsisent. This does not justify that claim.


> (a) Do you mean something like an abstraction of a document, in the
> sense that "Moby Dick" refers to a resource called a novel, which is
> an abstraction of all the printed, spoken etc. tokens of Moby Dick
> ever produced (which could be described as "representations" of it,
> although "token" is the existing technical term in wide use here.)
> 
> (b) Do you mean that the resource here is the actual weather - the
> state of the atmosphere - in Oaxacala on the day in question? So that
> the HTML 'represents' this in the sense of talking about it - 
> referring to it, describing it - which is the usual way that
> "represent" is used in normal language, formal semantics and
> linguistics.
> 
> (c) Do you mean that the resource here is the thing on the server that
> processes the request and which emits the text/html representation,
> which is therefore a representation of the state of a computational
> entity which is physically attached to the network? That is, the
> resource is a computational entity of some kind, or its state? This
> would be consistent with the first C sense of 'identify' and with the
> description in the first sentence of the abstract referring to
> 'resources interconnected by links'.
> 
> (d) Or do you intend to be systematically ambiguous between these
> alternatives, so as to try to apply to them all? I hope not, because
> they are not mutually compatible;

There is your claim again, still not justified.

>  and if not, it would be extremely helpful if you could clarify your
> intended meaning, perhaps by fleshing out the description of the
> example with a little more conceptual detail.

Well, the level of detail we have written down so far seems
to be an improvement over nothing to quite a few people.
We do intend to elaborate it eventually, but it's not clear
to me what you need that you haven't got already.

> Trying to home in on your intended meaning by searching the document
> for uses of "resource" gives the following:
> 
> [[The World Wide Web is a network-spanning information space of
> resources interconnected by links. ]]
> 
> I take it then that a resource is something that can be connected by a
> link to another resource. I presume also that "link" here means more
> than simply a reference to something,

why?

>  but connotes an actual connection of some kind (eg along which
> information can be transmitted.)

What's the difference?

>  This seems like sense (C), and is not intelligible when applied in
> any broader sense.

That's yet another strong claim, without justification.



I have spent about half an hour reading these comments without
finding justification for your claim that our document is
inconsisent.

I wonder if I could trouble you for a shorter version of your
argument?

[... much elided ...]

-- 
Dan Connolly, W3C http://www.w3.org/People/Connolly/
see you at the WWW2004 in NY 17-22 May?
Received on Monday, 29 March 2004 16:52:36 GMT

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