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Re: new text for Information Resource (section 3.1)

From: Sandro Hawke <sandro@w3.org>
Date: Thu, 09 Sep 2004 10:37:24 -0400
Message-Id: <200409091437.i89EbOuG026442@roke.hawke.org>
To: Patrick.Stickler@nokia.com
cc: www-tag@w3.org


> I suspect that your definition of "state" is not quite the same as mine.

Looking over some definitions for "state" [1], I disagree.  We're
using the word "state" in essentially the same way, I'm just thinking
that the *entire* state needs to be transmitted, and you're thinking
it's fine to transmit some particular information which is in some
way extracted or derived from the complete state.

AWWW says:

     Note: In this document, the noun "representation" means "octets
     that encode resource state information". These octets do not
     necessarily describe the resource, or portray a likeness of the
     resource, or represent the resource in other senses of the word
     "represent".

not saying either "...encode all resource state information..."  or
"...encode some resource state information...".   If I were a judge
trying to guess the intent, I'd probably read "some" into there, but
when I'm thinking "all" I can read that text without noticing any
contradiction.   Superb weasel text.

> If I choose to denote the actual coffee-maker with a URI, and provide
> a representation that reflects the "state" of the coffee-maker as
> "on", then I think that's just fine.

So I use firefox to visit http://tag-coffee-maker.example.com and I
see the text, in black on a white background, saying "On".  And now I
have some evidence that the TAG coffee-maker is on.  

Obviously http://tag-coffee-maker.example.com identifies a web page
which tells people whether the coffee maker is on or off.  To say the
URI identifies the coffee-maker itself is sophistry.

If we asked people to do a thorough investigatation of
http://tag-coffee-maker.example.com and tell us who created it and to
describe its coloration, would they tell us about the creation and
coloration of the coffee-maker or the web page?  I'm rather sure they
would describe the web page, unless there was some very confusing
labeling on or near the page [2].   Shall we do the experiment?
Maybe we could get each willing reader to try it with four random (not
TAG-savvy) co-workers.....



So let me propose the text which says more clearly what I think
you mean:

(1 -- minimal change to what I think Patrick means)

     Note: In this document, the noun "representation" means "octets
     used to convey information".  These octets are typically
     assocated in some useful way with a resource they are said to
     "represent", but they do not necessarily describe the resource,
     or portray a likeness of the resource, or represent the resource
     in any particular or standard way.

or rephrased

(2 -- rephrased to be bone-crushingly clear) 

     Note: In this document, the terms "representation" and
     "represents" are used in a specialized way to talk about the
     relationship between a resource and a sequence of octets which
     are said to represent it or to be a represention of it.  The
     relationship between a resource and its representation is in
     general not constrained, and other meanings of the word
     "representation" should not be taken to indicate what the
     relationship might be.  The representation does not necessarily
     describe, depict, symbolize, or otherwise relate to the resource
     in a way which one could know without knowledge of the
     specifications governing the context in which the representation
     occurs.

In contrast, I would prefer something like this:

(3 -- what I would like)

     Note: In this document, the terms "representation" and
     "represents" are used in a specialized way to talk about the
     relationship between a resource and a sequence of octets which
     are said to represent it or to be a represention of it.  The
     representation of a resource is simply its encoding in a standard
     format.  In some cases the encoding may be a straightforward
     serialization or marshalling of structured data, but lossy
     encoding formats (like JPEG) can also be used to create a
     representation of a resource.  Only resources which are
     purely information can be encoded in bits, so only these
     resources (called "Information Resources") can have
     representations.

Cheers.

     -- sandro


[1] http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=state
[2] http://www.georgetown.edu/faculty/irvinem/visualarts/magritte-pipe-sm.jpg
Received on Thursday, 9 September 2004 14:35:22 GMT

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