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Re: Naming things with hashes (not #, but e.g. md5)

From: Jonathan A Rees <rees@mumble.net>
Date: Wed, 11 Apr 2012 21:53:43 -0400
Message-ID: <CAGnGFMJKsc+0XotkgsBOsjdTfpn1rSii6HhGNJH-QPHbJ9h9jQ@mail.gmail.com>
To: Larry Masinter <masinter@adobe.com>
Cc: Kingsley Idehen <kidehen@openlinksw.com>, "www-tag@w3.org" <www-tag@w3.org>
Listen, don't answer my previous message as it doesn't address your
accusations that I subscribe to the incoherent and/or incorrect
theories that you misattribute to me. I will answer that in due time.

Jonathan

On Wed, Apr 11, 2012 at 9:01 AM, Jonathan A Rees <rees@mumble.net> wrote:
> On Wed, Apr 11, 2012 at 6:50 AM, Larry Masinter <masinter@adobe.com> wrote:
>> You're not understanding me, and I'm getting tired of trying to explain.
>
> I appreciate your making one more attempt to explain, because with
> each iteration I come closer to localizing the source of the
> disagreement.
>
> I don't think I'm doing any of the things you accuse me of, such as
> decontextualizing.
>
> Under the assumption of mutual respect we would do well to try to find
> the nut of the disagreement.  Unfortunately this activity is not well
> suited to long email messages.
>
> (For example, you say "I think that's an impoverished model of
> communication" which is a misunderstanding of what I said. I was not
> giving a model of communication, I was making a statement of fact,
> about what *I* do. I said:
>
> 'If I ask what an occurrence (in some context) of a name "means", ...'
>
> To be more explicit what I meant was:
>
> 'If I, Jonathan Rees, ask myself what an occurrence (in some context)
> of a name "means", ...'
>
> I was not talking about me asking someone else - that would have been
> about communication. I will admit that I am not always a clear
> communicator. But I will not admit, so far at least, to making
> mistakes in the present discussion, as you say I do.
>
> But that's an aside.)
>
> I think we can localize the disagreement to different accounts of
> a@href. This has nothing at all to do with RDF. Can we agree on this
> (that we have different accounts of a@href) first as a matter of fact?
> Here is my account (quote):
>
> 'a@href, where they intend for me to
> get to content they would be happy for me to get to in that situation.
> If the wrong content is served that's certainly not what they intend.'
>
> Here is your account (quote):
>
> 'If M is HTML and U appears in a@href, the "meaning" of U in that
> context is pretty widely understood as establishing some expected
> behavior in B's software when B clicks on the link'
>
> These look pretty different.
>
> These can both be true if intent != meaning. But in English these
> words are often used interchangeably, so it will be very easy for us
> to get confused about this.
>
> The paradox of the web is, why would anyone use an http: URI, under
> the understanding you articulate, when it doesn't express (mean) what
> they intend? Let's say they intend for the receiver to go to some
> particular document, as in a scholarly reference. They don't intend
> the particular network behavior that you say is "meant" because that
> behavior might lead to the wrong document - http: is not trustworthy
> from the author's point of view. So why do they write an http: URI,
> when they are perfectly aware of the risks? Because they don't have
> anything else to write that will work in a browser. There is no
> standard for addressing content that works reliably in a browser
> (yet). They *must* gamble and write something that doesn't mean
> exactly what they intend, and just hope that either it works, or that
> the receiver will be able to detect failure and perhaps remedy the
> problem somehow. They have no choice.
>
> (If they are careful obviously they will surround the a@href with
> natural language prose giving properties of the intended document that
> can be verified. They can give very weak information, such as
> reproducing small bits of content such as title, or strong
> information, such as an md5. But the fact remains that a@href with
> http: by itself is *always* a substantial leap of faith.)
>
> *Knowing* that others do not have this choice, when we try to browse
> old documents, we take special measures when we click on links. Our
> top level goal (as people) is not to follow HTTP and a@href correctly
> per spec; our top level goal is much more likely to be to recover the
> author's intent. We are cautious, knowing we may get the wrong content
> due to changes in domain ownership and so on. Any time we believe that
> the document we get via HTTP is the document intended by the author,
> we are taking a risk. This is the dual risk of the risk that the
> author took when they wrote the a@href in the first place.
>
> When I, the receiver/reader, throw the HTTP spec and DNS away and go
> to the wayback machine or other archives instead, and succeed in
> getting the document that the author intended, then communication has
> been successful. When there is agreement between sender and receiver
> on the processing of a message then, in my theory, the message "means"
> successfully (that's how the theory defines the meaning of a message,
> as agreement between sender and receiver). Thus, the URI did not
> "mean", to these two parties at least, to use HTTP and DNS and so on -
> the meaning ended up being clear, but the mechanism by which it was
> interpreted (interpretation != meaning) was quite convoluted and
> didn't follow the specs. It was more like an archeological
> investigation.
>
> I didn't intend to go on this long, so I will pause here for reaction.
> I am not taking a position, I am just trying to do some
> analysis/synthesis stuff with you, because I disagree that we
> disagree. We are both boneheaded but I don't think either of us is
> making mistakes in analysis; it's just a communication failure.
>
> Best
> Jonathan
Received on Thursday, 12 April 2012 01:54:13 GMT

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