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Re: [Glossary] Definition of a portable document (and other things...)

From: Leonard Rosenthol <lrosenth@adobe.com>
Date: Fri, 4 Sep 2015 20:02:10 +0000
To: Deborah Kaplan <dkaplan@safaribooksonline.com>
CC: Ivan Herman <ivan@w3.org>, W3C Digital Publishing IG <public-digipub-ig@w3.org>, Ralph Swick <swick@w3.org>, Bill Kasdorf <bkasdorf@apexcovantage.com>, Bill McCoy <bmccoy@idpf.org>
Message-ID: <ECCAE8A7-57BC-45F3-8BA5-28907400B9C7@adobe.com>
> The definition of a portable document must not to be so general that  it includes every collection of resources
> that could theoretically exist in the format we define as "portable.”
>
I quite disagree with you here, but as mentioned in the previous thread, I am concerned about the format itself.  And the format MUST allow for ANY collection of resources to be bound together in a “portable fashion” or it’s not a “Portable Document Format” (in the generic sense, of course).

>I would argue that something does not become a portable document because a spider crawled the site and generated a sitemap file.
>
In general, I agree.  UNLESS the purpose of the spider WAS to create a document from your site.  And in that way, I agree with you when you wrote “I assert that to make something a document, a human choice needs to have been made to create it”.  So we agree that as long as there is explicit intent to gather that collection, then it’s a document.

Leonard

From: Deborah Kaplan
Date: Friday, September 4, 2015 at 1:28 PM
To: Leonard Rosenthol
Cc: Ivan Herman, W3C Digital Publishing IG, Ralph Swick, Bill Kasdorf, Bill McCoy
Subject: Re: [Glossary] Definition of a portable document (and other things...)



On Fri, Sep 4, 2015 at 11:25 AM, Leonard Rosenthol <lrosenth@adobe.com<mailto:lrosenth@adobe.com>> wrote:
Your personal website COULD be a document and in fact you might want to “package it up” and archive it away as such.

Sure, it could be. But it isn't. The definition of a portable document must not to be so general that  it includes every collection of resources that could theoretically exist in the format we define as "portable."

That's why I used the term "editorial constructed." Ivan took exception to the word "editor," although in this case I am distinguishing between the concept of "editor" and the concept of "editorial." In fact, you make the distinction for me yourself, right here, Leonard:

“unrelated” is only a current state in the mind of a single person.  The simple act of making a collection of them has now made them related.  And that act of collecting them together (by human or machine) is the “editorial construct”.

The simple act of making a collection of them has made them " editorially constructed." However, when you say that active collecting them together -- by human or machine -- is the editorial construct. I would argue that something does not become a portable document because a spider crawled the site and generated a sitemap file. That can be *one* method by which portable documents are created (e.g., I can make the decision that I would like to create a document which is my entire site, so I build a spider to generate a collection). However, the mere act of having a machine generated collection doesn't make something a document.

For what it's worth, I think this is an inherent danger in creating explicit definitions, although of course I see the value in doing so as well.

The others here who have a library, archives, or information science background might recognize what I'm saying here, but I assert that to make something a document, a human choice needs to have been made to create it (even if the human choice was "I am going to run a web crawler and everything that it grabs will be a document"). Refencing Briet and those who followed: "There is intentionality: It is intended that the object be treated as evidence" and "the quality of having been placed in an organized, meaningful relationship with other evidence--that gives an object its documentary status." cf http://people.ischool.berkeley.edu/~buckland/digdoc.html

To quote Buckland's conclusion in the link above: "Attempts to define digital documents are likely to remain elusive, if more than an ad hoc, pragmatic definition is wanted.."

I know we are not going to pin down something which has eluded entire fields of information science. However, if we must define "document", it's vital to make it clear that a document is not a random collection of electronic files that happen to be something accessed together. They are constructed with intention, or compiled with intention.

For what it's worth, compiled with intention can be a readerly choice, as well. Think about Pintrest as a (not at all portable) example. A collection of images of sofa cushions, curtains, and paint swatches from a variety of different company's websites and personal blogs does not itself construe a document. However, if a Pintrest user then puts together a board compiling all of those images, that  is a constructed document. The only implied consumer of that document might also be the compiler of it, but that doesn't make it any less a document. Nonetheless,  intellectual choices were a necessary part of that compilation.

Deborah
Received on Friday, 4 September 2015 20:02:49 UTC

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