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RE: Information resources?

From: Joshua Allen <joshuaa@microsoft.com>
Date: Fri, 10 Sep 2004 10:51:39 -0700
Message-ID: <0E36FD96D96FCA4AA8E8F2D199320E5202E35F37@RED-MSG-43.redmond.corp.microsoft.com>
To: <Patrick.Stickler@nokia.com>, <Norman.Walsh@sun.com>, <www-tag@w3.org>

> methodologies which help humans manage the URI space due to 
> mnemmonic structure.

Nobody is suggesting such a thing.  My point would be just as valid if
we were talking about words instead of URIs (which are just the words of
the SW).  I am not suggesting a mnemonic device, I am simply saying that
people should be very precise when speaking.  If we left URIs entirely
out of the picture, I would say:

"Hoary_Marmot" when you want to talk about the animal Hoary_Marmot
"The word Hoary_Marmot" when you want to talk about the word
"A picture of a Hoary_Marmot" when you want to talk about a

And that *unless* you disambiguate between these three, your words have
no meaning at all (or at least you should not complain when people
assume that you mean the 1st sense).

> But insofar as the archtecture is concerned, URIs are opaque, 
> and any valid URI can be used to denote any resource. Period. 

Yes, I agree.  But that's not a very meaningful statement.  That is like
saying, "any word can be used to denote any thing, period."  It is true
that URIs are opaque, just like words are opaque, but this is not nearly
as relevant to this discussion as people seem to think.  Leaping from
that true statement, to "I should be able to use a URI to refer
simultaneously to a word, a thing, and a representation of the thing" is
just muddy-brained thinking.

And to the contrary, people *should* feel that they should not use an
http: URI to conflate semantics like this.  Just as it is possible for
Michael Jackson to say "bad" when he means "good", there is nothing
preventing people from attaching any wacky semantics they want to a word
(or URI).  But people should be discouraged from doing this.  It is

> http://example.com/someDog               physical resource (dog)
> http://example.com/someDog/index         abstract resource (web page)
> http://example.com/someDog/index.html    representation
> http://example.com/someDog/index.txt     representation
> http://example.com/someDog/index.jpg     representation

Now you are confusing your own self by ignoring your own insistence that
URIs are opaque.  In fact, even to the web architecture, there is
nothing stopping http://example.com/someDog/index.txt from returning a
JPEG.  To HTTP, all of those URIs are completely opaque, and could very
easily all return the same thing.  Consider hypothetically that they are
all mapped to the same web page and all return the same bits.  What have
you proved?  Even if you have a single unified URI, you are still unable
to disambiguate between the thing, it's representation, and it's
representation dispenser.

I would argue that all you have been successful in demonstrating is that
http: URIs in practice denote representation dispensers.
Received on Friday, 10 September 2004 17:52:11 UTC

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