W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-tag@w3.org > December 2007

Re: The meaning of "representation"

From: Harry Halpin <hhalpin@ibiblio.org>
Date: Tue, 04 Dec 2007 17:36:53 -0500
Message-ID: <4755D685.1040909@ibiblio.org>
To: wangxiao@musc.edu
Cc: noah_mendelsohn@us.ibm.com, Chimezie Ogbuji <chimezie@gmail.com>, Mikael Nilsson <mikael@nilsson.name>, Tim Berners-Lee <timbl@w3.org>, www-tag@w3.org

Xiaoshu Wang wrote
>  But of course, as you said, we have different definition about
> "information".
Well, there's about 6 or so definitions of information according to
people working in philosophy of information, and it appears unclear if
they layer on each other.
>>> I snip the rest (to shorten the message) because I agree your
>>> interpretation of Shannon's theory. However, I disagree that the
>>> assumption that the number of messages, with regard to a URI's
>>> representations, is finite. In principle, I can use ONE bit message in
>>> conjunction with various content types to answer all your questions
>>> about the resource. From a communication point of view, a user do not
>>> have a pre-established context with the resource.
>> At a given time it would seem that the number of possible
>> representations returned by a URI is finite. And the user does have a
>> pre-established context with the resource, via the standards implemented
>> by the browser, etc. etc. It may not completely determine the
>> interpretation of the resource as regard a human user (although it might
>> for a computer), but then....nothing does in any sort of communication
>> when humans are involved.
> Well, now you used another term "representation".  Is "representation"
> information or a carrier of information? This is what is at debate.
I'm using it in the webarch:representation sense (which, I might add,
thanks to Sean Palmer for clarfiying a bit for me). 

Now, one pretty good definition of information is by Bateson - it's a
"difference that makes a difference." I'm not sure if a representation
being information or a carrier of information makes a difference.

To me, the question is - is there a difference between an information
resource, like the novel Moby Dick, that's nature is "essentially
information", and a web-page (webarch:representation) about Moby-Dick
which returns representations?

 Is a novel about Moby Dick an information resource? Seems so. May it
have a web-page? Maybe. But then it might not, I could want to talk
about "the set of all possible Moby Dick novels in the future and past",
which would not be web-accessible. So, I guess 200 is okay there,
although it's pretty unclear what you'd return as a representation.

Like Pat, that's why I'm sort of pro-making a distinction between
Web-accessible resources and information resources, where information
resources are kinda unclear sometimes but Web-accessible resources mean,
well, documents/web-pages/bytes over the Web in the form of
webarch:representations. But defining "web-accessible" is kinda hard too.

Anyways, this whole discussion should probably be moved to
www-tag-philosophy@w3.org if someone could create it :) Actually, not

> Xiaoshu


Harry Halpin,  University of Edinburgh 
http://www.ibiblio.org/hhalpin 6B522426
Received on Tuesday, 4 December 2007 22:37:24 UTC

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.1 : Wednesday, 7 January 2015 15:32:54 UTC