W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > uri@w3.org > April 2003

Re: Resources and URIs

From: pat hayes <phayes@ai.uwf.edu>
Date: Wed, 23 Apr 2003 16:35:12 -0500
Message-Id: <p05210606bacca5455668@[]>
To: Dan Connolly <connolly@w3.org>
Cc: Tim Bray <tbray@textuality.com>, "Roy T. Fielding" <fielding@apache.org>, uri@w3c.org

>On Wed, 2003-04-23 at 00:09, pat hayes wrote:
>>  > Roy T. Fielding wrote:
>>  > > If you have suggested wording to change, then please suggest it.
>>  > > If you don't, then this is a redundant discussion and I have
>>  > > already
>>  > > answered it before:
>>  > I have a suggested wording change, because while I have been largely
>>  > unimpressed by the philosophical jargon being thrown around here
>>  > recently
>>  It is sad when a carefully worded request for clarification can be
>>  dismissed as "philosophical jargon", but let it pass.
>However carefully worded, it didn't include the magic
>"please change X to Y in the text" or even
>"text like ABC is more clear to me; is it OK to
>other folks?"
>It really would be most constructive if you'd suggest
>alternative text for the spec.

Look, this is like God asking me to tell him what 'thou shalt not' 
means. How the hell do I know what text to suggest? I didnt invent 
the Web.  Here's the group, tasked with the job of writing the 
document which is supposed to define the basic terminology, and they 
want ME to tell them what they are talking about? That is crazy. 
[later: but see PS.]

I have never known what the word 'resource' is supposed to mean. I 
asked you once, and you told me to just forget about it and pretend 
it meant 'anything'; but I don't think that is what Roy and Tim Bray 
(or Tim B-L) have in mind. My problem is, I really cannot discover 
what it is that they do have in mind, and the more I read and listen, 
the worse it gets. There seem to be fundamental confusions built into 
the very suppositions of the discussion. The fact that the discussion 
has been going on for a decade doesn't make them any less confused.

>If you can see
>more than one interpretation, suggest text for each
>and see which one gets more support. Or if you
>prefer one interpretation, suggest text to support

I don't have any preferences, other than for someone to say what the 
hell they are talking about. We can adapt the model theories to just 
about anything, I reckon, as long as its defined well enough so that 
we can model it mathematically.  But I need something to work with 
(or a licence to define things myself.) I can't manage with a blurry 
notion of 'refers' which when examined a little closely turns out to 
be hiding arbitrary use/mention confusions, 'social conventions', 
temporal indexicality, ambiguity of reference, confusions between 
retrieval and naming, frames of reference, individuation conditions 
which are not specified, and who knows what else - all implicit, but 
nowhere spelled out, in the apparent meaning of terminology described 
in a normative document - but which is also arbitrarily restricted in 
irrational ways, eg so as to make quantifiers meaningless.

>Neither Roy nor anybody else is in a good position
>to answer the sort of clarification questions you're

Well, then, if that is really true, then they are not up to the job, 
and should resign or find someone who is in a position to do it. I 
don't mean to be rude, but this is like telling me that there's 
nobody on the XML Schema group who knows anything about XML.

>Roy knows a little bit about the positions
>of some of the stakeholders, but he's not in a position
>to speak for all of them.
>The only way I can see making progress, at this
>point in this 10 year old conversation

Im beginning to see how long its been going on.

>, is that
>somebody suggests text and the folks who don't like
>it say so.

I think the best thing is if I just give up and stop whining. The 
world won't be any more confused than it is already, and we SWebbies 
can just carry on ignoring the new version of RFC 2396 as effectively 
as we ignored the previous one.  Seems like a pity, though.


[ PS. Here is my suggestion for an alternative introductory text. It 
probably needs wordsmithing.

"This document specifies the syntax of URIs, which are a form of 
global identifier used in Web protocols and languages.  Particular 
uses of URIs, and their intended meanings in various contexts, are 
described in other specifications. In general, the entities referred 
to or identified by URIs when used in Web contexts are called 
"resources"., but this document does not specify the nature of 
resources or to restrict resources to any particular category of 

and leave it at that.  Nothing else at all about resources, no 
examples, no discussion.

This follows a dictum: when something is highly controversial, don't 
try to get it right, just don't say it. And it tacitly admits what is 
the actual case, which is that its up to the world in general to 
decide what URIs are *actually* going to mean.. So the least said, 
the better.]
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Received on Wednesday, 23 April 2003 17:35:16 UTC

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