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Re: Review of new HTTPbis text for 303 See Other

From: Xiaoshu Wang <xiao@renci.org>
Date: Tue, 14 Jul 2009 10:01:16 -0400
Message-ID: <4A5C8FAC.7070202@renci.org>
To: Pat Hayes <phayes@ihmc.us>
CC: Richard Cyganiak <richard@cyganiak.de>, "Roy T. Fielding" <fielding@gbiv.com>, Jonathan Rees <jar@creativecommons.org>, Julian Reschke <julian.reschke@gmx.de>, HTTP Working Group <ietf-http-wg@w3.org>, www-tag@w3.org
Pat Hayes wrote:

<snip>
>> on these two counts, you end up ranting against a POV that I do not 
>> hold.
>>
>> I especially continue to maintain that any talk about denotation is 
>> out of place on the HTTP protocol level. There is no such thing as 
>> denotation in the universe of the Hypertext Transfer Protocol. Yes, 
>> people obviously use HTTP URIs to denote all sorts of things, and a 
>> lot can be said about how one should model resources and 
>> representations based on the things one wants to denote, and what one 
>> can or cannot infer about the denotation of a URI based on HTTP 
>> interactions, but none of this matters one bit for the actual 
>> operations of the protocol.
>
> Seems to me that this may have been true before http-range-14, but it 
> is not a stance that can possibly be maintained in the face of that 
> decision. And your final sentence above is, surely you can yourself 
> see, tendentious. If the HTTP 'layer' really were completely 
> unconcerned with denotation, how could one *possibly* infer anything 
> about what a URI denotes from *anything* about HTTP interactions?
The assumption here is that httpRange-14 is the right direction.  But 
that is a big *if*. If anything, this debate only shows how *bad* that 
this whole idea of httpRange-14 and information resource thing is.
 
>> The protocol is just about pushing representations around.
>
> Well, I would be delighted if this were true. But then the HTTP specs 
> should not claim or even hint at the idea that URIs can "identify" 
> non-computational things, or that such things can have 
> "representations" in its specialized sense. (It would be very good 
> manners, in fact, to clarify just what that highly specialized sense 
> of "representation" is, and state explicitly that it is not intended 
> to cover any wider sense of representation, for example the sense in 
> which it it used in such phrases as "knowledge representation".) And 
> you should be quite open and clear about the fact that this view of 
> HTTP is not compatible with the http-range-14 decision.
The HTTP protocol should be about pushing representation around.  And it 
shouldn't careless about if its URI denotes or identifies anything.  The 
latter is up to the one who implements that particular URI.   Let's not 
ignore the existence of such entities because it is those who expressed 
their denotation semantics.

Also, let's us not play linguistic tricks.  If the owner of 
"http://example.com/a.hamburger" makes it to denote a hamburger. Then 
HTTP-GET "http://example.com/a.hamburger" means "get me an 
awww:representation" of the hamburger. But it does NOT mean the "get" 
like in "get me that hamburger" as what we would say in front of a 
grill.  To think otherwise is to hallucinate.

httpRange-14 was at first designed to prevent people from episodes of 
this kind of hallucination.  But at the end, it ends up with its own one 
-- the hallucination of the information resource.

But let's get real.  Let's not temper the HTTP semantics with our own 
view on what the world or the Web ought to be.  Sure, you (or y'all) can 
have your wonderful world of "information resources".  It is none of my 
business.  But -- PLEASE, don't push it upon me. I am just not 
sophisticated enough to appreciate that delicate wonder. And most of 
all, I don't care.

Xiaoshu 
Received on Tuesday, 14 July 2009 14:03:10 GMT

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