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Re: Squaring the HTTP-range-14 circle

From: Ian Davis <lists@iandavis.com>
Date: Thu, 16 Jun 2011 21:41:02 +0100
Message-ID: <BANLkTi=As2fPRbCFV5mkFGRYZ=8PuDObeA@mail.gmail.com>
To: Tim Berners-Lee <timbl@w3.org>
Cc: Richard Cyganiak <richard@cyganiak.de>, public-lod@w3.org, Christopher Gutteridge <cjg@ecs.soton.ac.uk>

On Thu, Jun 16, 2011 at 6:04 PM, Tim Berners-Lee <timbl@w3.org> wrote:

> I don't think 303 is a quick and dirty hack.
> It does mean a large extension of HTTP to be uses with non-documents.
> It does have efficiency problems.
> It is an architectural extension to the web architecture.

We have had many years for this architectural extension to be adopted
and many of us producing linked data have been diligent in supporting,
promoting and educating people about it. Even I, with my many many
attempts to get this decision reconsidered, have promoted the W3C
consensus. Conversely, many more people have studied this extension
and rejected it. Companies such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft and
Yahoo, who are all W3C members and can influence these decisions
through formal channels if they wish, have looked at the httpRange
decsion and decided it doesn't work for them. Instead they have chosen
different approaches that require more effort to consume but lower the
conceptual barrier for publishers. However, they are convinced of the
need for URIs to identify things that are not just web pages which is
a huge positive.

These companies collectively account for a very large proportion of
web traffic and activity. I think just saying that they're wrong and
should change their approach is simply being dogmatic. They are
telling us that we are wrong. We should listen to them.

> If you want to give yourself the luxury of being able to refer to the subject of a webpage, without having to add anthing to disambiguate it from the web page, then for the sake of your system, so you can use the billion web pages for your purposes, then you now stop other like me from using semantic web systems to refer to those web pages, or in fact to the other hundred million web pages either.

The problem here is that there are so few things that people want to
say about web pages compared with the multitude of things they want to
say about every other type of thing in existence. Yet the httpRange
decision makes the web page a privileged component. I understand why
that might have seemed a useful decision, after all this is the web we
are talking about, but it has turned out not to be. The web page is
only the medium for conveying information about the things we are
really interested in.

The analogy is metadata about a book. Very little of it is about the
physical book, i.e. the medium. Perhaps you would want to record its
dimensions, mass, colour, binding or construction. There are many many
more things you would want to record about the book's content, themes,
people and places mentioned, author etc.

> Maybe you should an efficient way of doing what you want without destroying the system (which you as well have done so much to build)

I think this is unreasonably strong. Nothing is being destroyed.
Nothing has broken.

A few days after I wrote this post
(http://blog.iandavis.com/2010/12/06/back-to-basics/) I changed one of
the many linked datasets I maintain to stop using 303 redirects over a
few million resources. No-one has noticed yet. Nothing has broken.

Received on Thursday, 16 June 2011 20:41:30 UTC

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