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Re: Uniform access to descriptions

From: Xiaoshu Wang <wangxiao@musc.edu>
Date: Mon, 14 Apr 2008 01:29:17 +0100
Message-ID: <4802A55D.9030304@musc.edu>
To: Alan Ruttenberg <alanruttenberg@gmail.com>
CC: "Eric J. Bowman" <eric@bisonsystems.net>, Pat Hayes <phayes@ihmc.us>, Michaeljohn Clement <mj@mjclement.com>, "www-tag@w3.org WG" <www-tag@w3.org>, noah_mendelsohn@us.ibm.com, Jonathan Rees <jar@creativecommons.org>, Phil Archer <parcher@icra.org>, "Williams, Stuart (HP Labs, Bristol)" <skw@hp.com>



Alan Ruttenberg wrote:
> On Apr 13, 2008, at 6:53 PM, Xiaoshu Wang wrote:
>>
>>  I failed to follow what is the difference between /representation/ 
>> vs. /description/
>>
>
> You can make a distinction between them like this:
>
> Think about describing. When you describe something to someone you say 
> some things - you make some assertions about the thing. Suppose you 
> ask someone to describe what Alan looks like. You could say "he has 
> (some) brown hair". "he has a beard". Even if the person was talented 
> and able to draw Alan, they would say, when describing Alan: "He looks 
> like this" (pointing at the picture). 
>
> On the other hand, think of the goal of representation as 
> re-presentation. A representation of Alan might be a drawing or a 
> picture, i.e. it may not necessarily be a set of assertions. On the 
> other hand, some descriptions can be used as representations (have to 
> think about whether *all* descriptions are representations). In any 
> case, not all representations are descriptions, since not all 
> representations are in the form of assertions.
I can understand your viewpoint.  But you know I am a very simple minded 
person (:-)).  If I cannot find a clear-cut definition, I simply won't 
make it.  Here is my viewpoint, which I don't think it is important, but 
just want to illustrate my understanding.

First, I simply take machine agents as a different kind of human 
beings.  They speak a different language than the rest of native 
languages.  When I say "x is read" in English is no different from "x 
color red" in RDF. It is simply the latter has much simpler grammar and 
its user is less intelligent than humans.  RDF itself indeed doesn't has 
much logic in there.  RDFS/OWL gradually provided it for somewhat more 
intelligent agent.  But in between there are many other specialized 
representation/agents who can handle different kind of representations.  
An image is simply a pictorial representation/description of a resource, 
so does an audio file or even a binary data. 

Our object in the web is communication through sharing resources.  
Hence, all /representation/descriptions/ are doing one thing - to 
facilitate to understand by all means.  I just want to say 
architecturally they are not that much different from each other.  Of 
course, if useful, we can certainly make certain distinctions.  I have 
rarely use the word /metadata/ is because of its ambiguity.  But we 
should make - again - syntactic definition.  We can define that all data 
expressed in RDF is /description/, etc.  I don't mind such kind of 
definition.   It is just like when we design database, we can all the 
schema the metadata because it is syntactic and clear so it is practical.

Not trying to open another /debate/, which I sincerely wish not.  I just 
want to learn our lesson from  the IR and httpRange-14, which after 6 
years, are still continue bothering people (no longer bothering me but, 
I guess, still many others).

Regards,

Xiaoshu
Received on Monday, 14 April 2008 00:30:06 GMT

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