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RE: "information resource"

From: <Patrick.Stickler@nokia.com>
Date: Wed, 1 Sep 2004 18:13:43 +0300
Message-ID: <1E4A0AC134884349A21955574A90A7A50ADCA8@trebe051.ntc.nokia.com>
To: <michael@neonym.net>
Cc: <www-tag@w3.org>

> -----Original Message-----
> From: ext Michael Mealling [mailto:michael@neonym.net]
> Sent: 01 September, 2004 16:55
> To: Stickler Patrick (Nokia-TP-MSW/Tampere)
> Cc: www-tag@w3.org
> Subject: RE: "information resource"
> On Wed, 2004-09-01 at 09:35, Patrick.Stickler@nokia.com wrote:
> > > It is incumbent on others to use the term as defined by 
> the document,
> > > not by how they think they would define it or what they 
> think those
> > > particular words might mean. Just because it might cause 
> someone some
> > > discomfort doesn't mean its wrong or badly named.
> > 
> > Hmmm... I'm not encouraged at all by the tone of this response.
> > 
> > Seems to me that any term which would cause confusion, particularly
> > in a document intended to reduce confusion, is not "a good thing".
> Agreed. But at some point you have to tell the minority that are still
> uncomfortable with it to stop trying to parse the words and 
> just go with
> the definition itself. 

Ummm... but "information resource" is a new term. Are you suggesting
that there is a *majority* of users of that term already? Hmmm....

I'm talking about the *term* and its potential for causing 
confusion, not about the distinction between resources in general
vs resources with web accessible representations.

> You'll never make everyone happy with the terms
> you use. I personally don't like the way you're describing 
> things below.
> But that doesn't mean I have to adopt them. I just have to know you
> think that way so I can differentiate it from the way I do things.

In principle, I agree.

However, I still stand by my assertion that the term chosen is
far from optimal and the TAG should consider an alternative,
or even its omission.

"information resource" is simply too suggestive about the intrisic
nature of the resource, and I expect alot of folks will have difficulty
reconciling the suggestive linguistic nuances of the term with
things such as dogs, colors, planets, etc...

If the TAG is going to introduce a new term (and I suggest that no
such term is needed) the term should not carry along any misleading
connotations or interpretations.

And as for "the minority"... this term has just been introduced, and
the call for comments has just gone out, yet you seem to talk as if
this term has been in use for years.

[Admitedly, I am viewing AWWW from a SW perspective, but if the
 SW is to remain an extension of or layer atop the Web, then AWWW
 must be generally reconcilable with a SW perspective]

> > > > Since *any* resource *can* (potentially) have a 
> representation, the
> > > > membership of the class of "information resources" is a 
> > > reflection of
> > > > the management, over time, of those resources, not any 
> intrinsic 
> > > > characteristic of the resources themselves.
> > > > 
> > > > I may have a dog, which is denoted by a URI, and if I 
> > > choose to publish
> > > > representations of that dog via that URI, that in no 
> way changes the
> > > > nature of that dog. And I have a hard time thinking of 
> that dog as
> > > > an "information resource", just because someone can 
> dereference its
> > > > URI to get some representation of the dog.
> > > 
> > > Better get used to it because every physical instance of 
> every product
> > > in the world is about to get a URI. That box of Gillette 
> > > razors is going
> > > to have a URI that denotes that exact physical thing. Dogs 
> > > are going to
> > > have RFID chips embedded in them and there are standards 
> for encoding
> > > the binary identifier in that RFID chip as a URN and the 
> > > exact intent is  that this URN denotes that particular 
> dog. It is an
> > > information resource. It produces information. There are 
> network layer
> > > methods for transferring the information produced by that dog from
> > > the physical world to the electronic (the concept of a 
> boundary between
> > > the two becoming more and more useless every day).
> > 
> > I'm sorry, but I don't find these arguments convincing.
> They're not predicated on being convincing to you.


So is this a new policy of the W3C that constituent members
need not be convinced of the validity of its recommendations
and conclusions?

I'll be sure to let our AC rep know of this new position.

Pardon the distraction.

> > Just because there might be an information infrastructure
> > which may provide information *about* certain resources
> > in the form of representations does not make those resources
> > "information producing".
> The distinctions you make between whether or not something is actually
> producing the information directly or via some network 
> translation proxy
> is arbitrary and is becoming meaningless in reality. 

Sorry, but you seem to missing the central point I'm trying to make.

The term "information resource" is, by its definition, insofar
as I have understood the latest draft of AWWW, synonymous with
"resource with web accessible representation(s)" yet it is suggestive of 
much more about the resource itself than simply the existence of
representations; and I expect that many users will presume things 
about the nature of "information resources" that they would not presume 
about "resources with web accessible representation(s)" (i.e. that
they are data-oriented resources comprised of text, structured data,
image data, etc).

I.e. I expect alot of folks to equate an "information resource" with
"something I can get with my browser" and from there, confuse "information
resource" with the actual representation.

The term does nothing to strengthen the distinction between resource
and representation, but will more likely blur it further.

> Active RFID chips
> are putting measurement and physical item state as active network
> resources. 
> > The definition of the term in AWWW and your description
> > above feels strained, perhaps from focusing on this stuff too
> > closely for too long.
> No. This has been the exact and clear intent since 1992 


And the existence and general understanding of that exact
and clear intent is why the TAG has been laboring so long
on AWWW...?

Sorry, I'm wondering if we're talking about the same thing here.

> > I expect the "average Joe" coming cold to AWWW and to the
> > Web and Semantic Web will end up being confused by the
> > term.
> So far I've only run across about 4 people that are confused by it....

By the term?

I wonder if you are talking about the term itself, or about
some fundamental REST principle meant to be captured by the

My concerns are about the term generating confusion, not
about the distinction between resources in general and resources
with web accessible representations.

> > > > Likewise, membership in this class of "information 
> resources" will
> > > > be transient. At one time, there may be a URI denoted 
> resource that
> > > > has no representation. Then it does, at which time it becomes an
> > > > "information resource". Later, the representations are no longer
> > > > accessible, at which time it ceases to be an 
> "information resource";
> > > > insofar as the definition provided is concerned.
> > > 
> > > It ceases to be an information resource from your 
> > > perspective. Based on
> > > policies associated with the identifier (be they from the 
> scheme used,
> > > communicated to you through previous interactions, etc) you 
> > > may be able
> > > to expect that it a) may become an information resource again 
> > > and b) may
> > > still be an information resource to someone else but right 
> > > now you can't
> > > prove that it is one.
> > 
> > Right. So again, we're really talking about the "management state"
> > of representations accessible via that URI, not the denoted resource
> > itself.
> The distinction is not up to you to make. You don't have 
> authority over
> the URI.....

Exactly. I fully agree. And so I think we're having a disconnect here.

I understand the term "information resource" to be equivalent
to "resource with web accessible representation(s)".

Do you agree?

If so, then I see the term "information resource" as being
linguistically suggestive of more. And selection of a good term
is one that would not carry along such baggage. That is the point
I am making.

> > (this is Pat's C vs D issue, of course, such that, for all 
> "information
> > resources" one could take a C perspective or a D perspective, but
> > for non-information resources, one could only take a D perspective, 
> > yet in the context of web-accessible resources, the C vs D confusion
> > remains; this term does not actually resolve that confusion)
> You'll have to give me a reference. That wasn't sufficient to make it
> clear what the confusion was....


Received on Wednesday, 1 September 2004 15:13:58 UTC

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