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Re: Raising a new issue on the need for a statement on the roles and mutual respect of author/user/transformer.

From: Luca Passani <passani@eunet.no>
Date: Thu, 12 Mar 2009 13:53:33 +0100
Message-ID: <49B905CD.3060103@eunet.no>
To: MWI BPWG Public <public-bpwg@w3.org>

Rotan, I think the issue you raised fails to consider one basic aspect:

To which extent does the transcoding craziness jeopardize the concept of 
the web as a whole?

The foundation of the web is that individuals and companies invest time 
and money to create content because that content will be accessed by 

In the case of transcoders, we are talking about network elements that, 
from one day to the next, become alive and start playing tricks with the 
content that travels in the network!!!

I mean, are you all blind? or crazy? can't you see how much confusion 
and disruption this "technology" can bring to the way the Internet and 
the Web have worked all of these years?

Anyway, there seem to be agreement that transcoders are a "temporary" 
and "transitional" technology. In this case, you don't need a 
recommendation or a spec. Just guidelines which may even happen outside 
of W3C. If you want W3C to make these guidelines happen, there is only 
one logical thing to do: demand that transcoders do the maximum effort 
possible to preserve authors' intentions, and err on the side of not 

 > Authors, users and transformers should cooperate to help the Web reach
>  its full potential, specifically: all can publish, all can consume.

this can only happen by "enabling" authors, not by bastardizing their 
content behind their back (with a good injection of operator-managed 
banner ads in the someone else's content, please)


Rotan Hanrahan wrote:
> Jo has invited me to raise an ISSUE, so that something more specific 
> relating to the CT document can be considered. I have already 
> presented the background to my concerns in [1], and I now add this 
> email to raise the ISSUE, which I hope will be added to the Issue Tracker.
> = Summary =
> Absent some indication from the author of the original content, it is 
> fair to presume that an author publishes content via the Web knowing 
> that “Web-like things” may happen to that content, but also having an 
> expectation that such Web-like things would be “reasonable”. Where the 
> author has provided some indication of how the content should be 
> treated, this should be respected. Nevertheless, it is also fair to 
> assume that publication via the Web has an implicit intent of 
> publication to the widest possible audience. Where there are users 
> within that Web audience who, for whatever reason, have trouble 
> consuming the content, the architecture of the Web provides for 
> remedial action via a transforming proxy. That proxy must take into 
> account the gap between what the author provided (and intended) versus 
> what the user can consume (and prefers). Authors, users and 
> transformers should cooperate to help the Web reach its full 
> potential, specifically: all can publish, all can consume.
> = Issue =
> = = =
> ISSUE: The CT document is missing some statement recognising the role 
> and expectations of the main parties (author, consumer, transformer) 
> and the need for mutual understanding and respect of the others’ 
> needs/expectations. Perhaps also some suggestion from the BPWG on how 
> to prioritize the different needs/expectations would be useful, as a 
> general principal, especially given that there will be conflicts to 
> resolve.
> = = =
> = Illustration =
> I think this issue could be addressed by a sentence or two in the 
> introduction, to which we can refer when consider the technical 
> matters elsewhere. For example, with the principle of mutual fair 
> respect, one could examine the technical suggestion ( for 
> “User Selection of Restructured Experience” and ask questions like:
> - Does this respect the efforts of an author to provide alternative 
> representations?
> - Does this respect the need of a user to obtain alternative 
> representations?
> - Does the proxy fairly take into account the gap between author and user?
> - Is it fair to allow the user to select the proxy’s representation 
> over that of the author?
> In the above example, the first three points appear to be in keeping 
> with a principle of mutual respect. The last point shows the potential 
> tension between author and user, but the CT guidance suggests that it 
> is the user who makes the decision (not the proxy) and we should also 
> consider the assumption of “Web-like things” happening to what you 
> publish, in which case the user’s choice prevails. Thus 
> appears to be reasonable.
> However, an explicit indication from the author that transformation 
> not permitted would show that the author was not making an assumption 
> regarding Web-like things happening. Perhaps in this case the author’s 
> representation should prevail. Personally I would find such an 
> attitude by the author to be narrow and short-sighted because the 
> author would be intentionally limiting the Web audience, ignoring what 
> is technically possible today and what might be possible in the 
> future. Unfortunately, the existing mechanisms (e.g. HTTP 
> No-Transform) are not expressive enough. I’d like there to be a HTTP 
> Avoid-Transform, so that there’s flexibility to do the right thing 
> under circumstances we can’t predict, but I know that creating new 
> technology is out of scope.
> = Closing =
> We in MobileAware have considered what this means for our own 
> products/services. We aim to give an excellent end-user experience 
> regardless of the browsing device, and we hope that any intermediary 
> would respect our efforts by not transforming our content unless the 
> user’s circumstances strongly demand it. At some time in the future 
> there may be some unanticipated delivery context (e.g. the spherical 
> display of a holographic browser) and rather than deny people access 
> to our content via such an amazing device we would accept an 
> intermediary stepping in to do additional adaptation. Indeed, we might 
> even work directly with an intermediary to help them adapt our content 
> to the niche market of spherical holographic displays. It’s all about 
> mutual respect.
> ---Rotan.
> [1] _http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-bpwg/2009Mar/0073.html_
Received on Thursday, 12 March 2009 12:54:11 UTC

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