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RE: "Authority" of HTTP-based Resource Descriptor

From: Larry Masinter <masinter@adobe.com>
Date: Thu, 22 Jan 2009 14:12:02 -0800
To: Jonathan Rees <jar@creativecommons.org>, Eran Hammer-Lahav <eran@hueniverse.com>
CC: "www-tag@w3.org" <www-tag@w3.org>
Message-ID: <8B62A039C620904E92F1233570534C9B0118C847284C@nambx04.corp.adobe.com>
I think the problem is trying to use "authoritative" in some absolute sense, rather than being explicit that something is only "authoritative" according to some "authority".

I think it's easier if you talk about "belief" rather than "truth" when trying to design the architecture of metadata. If there's something that everyone believes, then you might be able call it "truth" (perhaps until you come across someone who isn't a true believer.) But being explicit about "belief" makes it easier to reason second-order.

"Trust" is a willingness to accept transitive belief: your trust in an authority is reflected in your willingness to believe statements made by the authority.

Link headers and Link elements are a way of an information service or information object to make assertions about the location of further assertions about that object. So if you trust the service or information object, then you might also be willing to trust its assertion that the location provided is a trustworthy source of metainformation (additional assertions).

Larry
-- 
http://larry.masinter.net


(I'm not convinced that it's useful to try to solve these semantic problems to bring the web to its full potential, though.)



-----Original Message-----
From: www-tag-request@w3.org [mailto:www-tag-request@w3.org] On Behalf Of Jonathan Rees
Sent: Thursday, January 22, 2009 8:46 AM
To: Eran Hammer-Lahav
Cc: www-tag@w3.org
Subject: "Authority" of HTTP-based Resource Descriptor


Thanks for doing this - it looks very good. I have a few other
comments which I'll send later.

I know you are staying away from discussion of whether the information
in a resource descriptor is "authoritative", or at least more
"authoritative" than information found through other means, and that's
probably a good thing, but I know the question will come up. Until we
have a consensus theory, I think we have to assume that the descriptor
is, in general, not authoritative, since authority is always relative
to what's being said - any particular agent can make only some
statements authoritatively. For example, a statement that a piece of
historic writing has a certain author is not up to me; my saying that
the author is so-and-so cannot be authoritative, because I can be
wrong. This is true even if I "own" a URI with which the work was
named and I make the statement naming the work using that URI. You can
choose to trust me when I say it, and you may be justified in doing
so; but that's a different phenomenon from an exercise of "authority".

The "in general" is important since particular applications, such as
OpenID, might choose to take certain bits of information found in the
descriptor to be authoritative, and that's OK. That's not the same as
saying *all* the information is authoritative.

I can't say I have a good theory of authority on the web, but in my
spare time I would like to work on one or hunt one down (if it already
exists).  BAN logic http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BAN_logic might be my
starting point. If anyone else has any insight let me know. For now I
wanted to make sure this caution was stated.

Best
Jonathan

On Tue, Jan 13, 2009 at 1:18 PM, Eran Hammer-Lahav <eran@hueniverse.com> wrote:
>
> http://tools.ietf.org/html/draft-hammer-discovery-00

>
> I have recently published a draft for obtaining resource descriptors via HTTP using Link headers, Link elements (HTML, Atom), and Site-Meta [1]. The draft goal is to provide a unified view on how to use the three methods for obtaining information about resources (discovery). The draft invents very little (an extension to Site-Meta allowing it to describe individual resources and not just the overall site).
>
> Any feedback would be greatly appreciated and can be sent directly to me or discussed on the www-talk@w3.org mailing list.
>
> Thanks,
>
> EHL
>
> [1] http://tools.ietf.org/html/draft-nottingham-site-meta-00

>
>

Received on Thursday, 22 January 2009 22:12:58 GMT

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