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RE: Proposed AWWW erratum on "information resources" [was Re: Fwd: Splitting vs. Interpreting]

From: David Booth <david@dbooth.org>
Date: Mon, 13 Jul 2009 13:37:15 -0400
To: Larry Masinter <masinter@adobe.com>
Cc: "Sean B. Palmer" <sean@miscoranda.com>, "www-tag@w3.org" <www-tag@w3.org>
Message-Id: <1247506635.8210.1061.camel@dbooth-laptop>
Hi Larry,

I think we're talking about two different things here: the proposed tdb:
scheme, and the definition of "information resource".  I don't think I
can offer the TAG specific input on what should be considered a higher
priority than what else, but in general I would say:

 - URIs are the foundation of the Web, and the network effect is
important, hence the proliferation of URI schemes is important to
prevent.

 - Consternation over the definition of "information resource" (and the
related httpRange-14 issue) has been a persistent thorn for a long time,
consuming much aggregate brain power.  It would be nice to lay it to
rest (if possible).

David Booth


On Mon, 2009-07-13 at 09:04 -0700, Larry Masinter wrote:
> I've updated the "tdb" document (removing duri)
> as a contribution to the puzzle of
> "URI for abstract concept":
> 
> http://www.ietf.org/internet-drafts/draft-masinter-dated-uri-06.txt
> 
> It provides a way of creating a URI that can identify
> anything that you can describe.
> 
> I don't want to start the meta-discussion on the www-tag 
> mailing list, but I would appreciate (private, or cc'd to
> www-archive only if you prefer), reasons why you think
> resolving this is of higher priority than the other 
> topics the TAG is now considering.
> 
> For my part (and I think I'm an outlier on the TAG alas)
> I am not at all convinced that this topic meets all of the
> criteria I have for what I think should be high priority 
> for the tag: something we can resolve, will likely have an 
> effect on the participants in Web architecture, in which
> the TAG has expertise, is relevant to the ongoing
> important work of W3C groups, is not better addressed
> by specific working groups chartered for the purpose,
> ... 
> 
> I'm not particularly happy (personally) with what the 
> AWWW document says about "information resources", but
> why is it important for the TAG to spend a lot of time
> fixing?
> 
> Thanks,
> 
> Larry
> -- 
> http://larry.masinter.net
> 
> 
> 
> -----Original Message-----
> From: www-tag-request@w3.org [mailto:www-tag-request@w3.org] On Behalf Of David Booth
> Sent: Sunday, July 12, 2009 7:25 PM
> To: Sean B. Palmer
> Cc: www-tag@w3.org
> Subject: Proposed AWWW erratum on "information resources" [was Re: Fwd: Splitting vs. Interpreting]
> 
> On Thu, 2009-06-18 at 17:34 +0100, Sean B. Palmer wrote: 
> > On Thu, Jun 18, 2009 at 7:45 AM, David Booth wrote:
> > 
> > > The flaw that I think should be fixed is the definition of "information
> > > resource" (IR) in the AWWW:
> > > http://www.w3.org/TR/webarch/#id-resources
> > > "all of their essential characteristics can be conveyed in a message".
> > 
> > What would you propose for an erratum?
> 
> Okay, since you asked . . .  ;)  I'd suggest the following changes.
> 
> 1. The first three paragraphs of section 2.2 currently read:
> http://www.w3.org/TR/webarch/#id-resources
> [[
> By design a URI identifies one resource. We do not limit the scope of
> what might be a resource. The term "resource" is used in a general sense
> for whatever might be identified by a URI. It is conventional on the
> hypertext Web to describe Web pages, images, product catalogs, etc. as
> “resources”. The distinguishing characteristic of these resources is
> that all of their essential characteristics can be conveyed in a
> message. We identify this set as “information resources.”
> 
> This document is an example of an information resource. It consists of
> words and punctuation symbols and graphics and other artifacts that can
> be encoded, with varying degrees of fidelity, into a sequence of bits.
> There is nothing about the essential information content of this
> document that cannot in principle be transfered in a message. In the
> case of this document, the message payload is the representation of this
> document.
> 
> However, our use of the term resource is intentionally more broad. Other
> things, such as cars and dogs (and, if you've printed this document on
> physical sheets of paper, the artifact that you are holding in your
> hand), are resources too. They are not information resources, however,
> because their essence is not information. Although it is possible to
> describe a great many things about a car or a dog in a sequence of bits,
> the sum of those things will invariably be an approximation of the
> essential character of the resource.
> ]]
> 
> I suggest changing the above paragraphs to:
> [[
> By design a URI identifies one resource.  The term "resource" is used in
> a general sense for whatever might be identified by a URI.  We do not
> limit the scope of what might be a resource.  A resource could be
> anything that one may wish to identify --  physical, conceptual, real or
> imaginary.  
> 
> An "information resource" is any resource that plays a role in the
> hypertext Web by producing "representations"[link to definition in sec
> 3.2] in response to Web requests.  Web pages, images, product catalogs
> and other things that are made available on the Web are all information
> resources.  Some information resources, such as static web pages, may
> change very little or not at all over time.  Others, such as one that
> displays the current weather report for Oaxaca, may vary frequently.
> Similarly, some information resources, such as an interactive travel
> booking site, may vary their representations depending on their
> requests.  Others, such as simple Web pages, may not.  Conceptually one
> can think of an information resource as a function from time and request
> to representation. 
> 
> Ambiguity of Resource Identity
> 
> Although a URI is intended to identify one resource, and ambiguity about
> the identity of that resource should be avoided to the extent possible,
> ultimately ambiguity is in the eye -- or the application -- of the
> beholder.  Because anything can be a resource, what one party considers
> a single resource (perhaps having multiple aspects) another party making
> finer distinctions might consider multiple resources that should have
> distinct URIs.  
> 
> For example, the content of a book may be placed on the web and
> identified by a particular URI.  Many parties will have no need to
> distinguish between the web page that provides the content of the book
> and the content of the book as an artistic work that is subject to
> copyright law.  Depending on one's perspective (or application) this may
> be viewed as a case in which the URI unambiguously identifies a resource
> that has multiple aspects or as a case of ambiguity, in which the
> artistic work and the web page are each deserving of their own distinct
> URIs.
> 
> Resources whose essential characteristics can be conveyed in message are
> good candidates for being considered information resources.  Other
> things, such as cars and people are less good, because some applications
> are likely to find them ambiguous.  For example, if the same URI is used
> to directly identify both a person and a Web page -- an information
> resource -- an application that records the creation dates of people and
> Web pages may find this resource ambiguous, because it cannot
> distinguish between the creation date of the person and the creation
> date of the web page.  This ambiguity would be avoided by giving the
> person and the web page separate URIs.  On the other hand, the use of
> two separate URIs may impart a cost to other applications that have no
> need to distinguish between the person and the Web page, because it
> requires these applications to recognize two URIs that those
> applications consider equivalent.
> ]]
> 
> 2. The current definition of "representation" reads:
> http://www.w3.org/TR/webarch/#internet-media-type
> [[
> A representation is data that encodes information about resource state.
> Representations do not necessarily describe the resource, or portray a
> likeness of the resource, or represent the resource in other senses of
> the word "represent".
> ]]
> 
> I suggest changing this to:
> [[
> A representation is a response, from an information resource, that
> encodes information reflecting that information resource's state.
> Representations do not necessarily describe the information resource, or
> portray a likeness of the resource, or represent the resource in other
> senses of the word "represent".  Only an information resource can have
> representations in the sense used herein.
> ]]
> 
> 3. In addition to the above changes, there are many instances of the
> word "resource" that should be changed to "information resource",
> because the context only applies to information resources -- not
> resources in general.  
> 
> 
-- 
David Booth, Ph.D.
Cleveland Clinic (contractor)

Opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily
reflect those of Cleveland Clinic.
Received on Monday, 13 July 2009 17:37:52 GMT

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