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Re: new text for Information Resource (section 3.1)

From: Stuart Williams <skw@hp.com>
Date: Mon, 11 Oct 2004 14:18:55 +0100
Message-ID: <416A883F.4050203@hp.com>
To: Sandro Hawke <sandro@w3.org>
Cc: public-webarch-comments@w3.org


At our F2F tin Basel this week, we spend a considerable time discussion 
the definition of "Information Resources". We developed new definitional 
text which the TAG reached concensus on at the beginning of Section 2.2 
[1] and quoted below.

2.2. URI/Resource Relationships

By design a URI identifies one resource. We do not limit the scope of 
what might be a resource. The term "resource" is used in a general sense 
for whatever might be identified by a URI. It is conventional on the 
hypertext web to describe web pages, images, product catalogs, etc. as 
“resources”. The distinguishing characteristic of these resources is 
that all of their essential characteristics can be conveyed in a 
message. We identify this set as “information resources”.

This document is an example of an information resource. It consists of 
words and punctuation symbols and graphics and other artifacts that can 
be encoded, with varying degrees of fidelity, into a sequence of bits. 
There is nothing about the essential information content of this 
document that cannot in principle be transfered in a representation.

However, our use of the term resource is intentionally more broad. Other 
things, such as cars and dogs (and, if you’ve printed this document on 
physical sheets of paper, the artifact that you are holding in your 
hand), are resources too. They are not information resources, however, 
because their essence is not information. Although it is possible to 
describe a great many things about a car or a dog in a sequence of bits, 
the sum of those things will invariably be an approximation of the 
essential character of the resource.

We define the term “information resource” because we observe that it is 
useful in discussions of web technology and may be useful in 
constructing specifications for facilities built for use on the web.

This text moves the definition of "Information Resource" in-line at the 
beginning of section 2.2 rather than by forward reference to the former 
section 3.1.

Please can you let us know if we have addressed your comment to your 
satisfaction (if possible before our next telcon which will be 18th 

Many thanks,

Stuart Williams
On behalf of W3C TAG
[1] http://www.w3.org/2001/tag/webarch/#id-resources

Sandro Hawke wrote:

>I found the definition of "Information Resource" in 3.1 [1] very
>confusing and discussion on www-tag suggests it's overly ambiguous.
>I'm willing to provide evidence of its flaws if necessary, but I'd
>rather skip to some replacement text.  I believe this text is
>compatible with the current text and merely clarifies matters, but
>people who interpret the current text differently may find this a
>significant change.
>   An "Information Resource" is a collection of information
>   potentially transmittable via a computer network.  Digital forms of
>   creative works (such as documents and images) are Information
>   Resources, while certain conceptual entities (such as numbers and
>   RDF properties) are not.  This distinction is becoming useful as
>   people develop ways to use URIs to identify things which are not
>   Information Resources.
>   Physical objects and phenomena (eg sound) are not Information
>   Resources, but they may be measured or otherwise used to produce
>   information which can form Information Resources.  A hand written
>   note is not an Information Resource, but a digital scan of it is.
>   The weather at a particular place (a physical phenomenon) is not an
>   Information Resource, but a collection of measurements or
>   predictions of the weather are.  In the strictest sense, a
>   computer-controlled "web-accessable" coffee-maker is not an
>   Information Resource, but its counters, timers, and the readings of
>   its sensors are.  The coffee-maker itself might have scratches,
>   stains, and be positioned in a particular way on the counter, but
>   it is the counters, timers, and sensor readings which are used to
>   generate the web page.
>   Information Resources are the only kind of resources which can have
>   representations.  The number 1, which is not an Information
>   Resource, might be said to be represented by the two-octet sequence
>   0x0001, but not in the sense of "representation" used in this
>   document.  A web-accessible control dial, set to "1", might respond
>   to HTTP GET requests with a representation of its state: 0x0001.
>   In this example, 0x0001 acts an identifier for the number 1 within
>   the data format being used.  An HTTP GET of a URI for the number 1
>   itself could meaningfully be met with an error or redirect, but not
>   with a representation.
>I'm sorry for poking at a sensitive spot in the document; I hope this
>text is clear and precise enough to be helpful.
>      -- sandro
>[1] http://www.w3.org/TR/2004/WD-webarch-20040816/#information-resource
Received on Monday, 11 October 2004 13:19:08 UTC

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