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

Re: Resources and URIs

From: Roy T. Fielding <fielding@apache.org>
Date: Wed, 23 Apr 2003 16:51:10 -0700
Cc: uri@w3.org
To: pat hayes <phayes@ai.uwf.edu>
Message-Id: <75AEF516-75E6-11D7-8BE6-000393753936@apache.org>

>> 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.]

No, we want you to put up or shut up.  We want you to take the time to
describe what it is you want the definition to say, because it is quite
possible that you might come up with better wording than what we have 
That is standard operating procedure for editing specifications.

> 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.

Oh, so you just want me to tell you what it means, and that will be the
end of it?  Every time I do that, other people claim I am just arguing
from authority.  Ask them if you want that kind of answer.

>> 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
>> that.
> 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.

You obviously have something you want it to say, otherwise you would not
be concerned about any of those things.  In any case, the definitions
aren't in the normative part of the document anyway.  They are attempts
to answer the most commonly asked questions.

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

I didn't know I had the job of telling everyone the definitions.
Heck, if that's the case, I don't need a working group.

The definitions I like are already in the document.  I already gave
you a reference that defines them as completely as I wish them to be
defined.  If that isn't good enough for you, how am I supposed to
know what will be good enough?

As near as I can tell, the entire source of your confusion is due to
assuming that the word "identity" refers to the identity function of
mathematics, which as I said at the beginning of this thread is not
the case.  I can clarify that in the text, assuming I ever get a chance
to work on the document.

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

No.  Look, you guys aren't the ones who have to answer questions in the
absence of definitions.  I do.  I refuse to leave what has been deployed
in an unspecified state, regardless of how many arguments that causes
in the Semantic Web.  If SemWeb needs a better definition, then its
proponents can reach consensus on what it should be and provide me
with an appropriate text that has no adverse impact on deployed
implementations of URI.

I am not even remotely confused about what resource means.  That does
not mean the definition can't be improved.

Received on Wednesday, 23 April 2003 20:25:34 UTC

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