Re: About httpRange-14

> I just spent some time re-reading the long series of email discussions 
> httpRange-14 [1]. 

Wow, you're a patient man!

> It seems they addressed at length what a URI points to, but did not 
> what does point to a thing when one wants to be able to get an associate
> representation about that thing. 

Not sure I'm parsing this right.  I believe the TAG's resolution is:  a 
URI identifies a resource.  The "range" of such resources includes 
information resources, which can be represented with good fidelity in a 
computer message, and for which a status code 200 is appropriate if you 
are indeed returning such a representation of the resource.  A 303 can be 
used with any resource, including an information resource, if you have 
other information to provide about it instead of a representation.  In the 
case of a resource that's not an IR, that's your only option, in the sense 
that a 200 is inappropriate.  What you can return from the resource 
identified by the URI to which you're redirected is more or less 
unconstrained.  Not sure if that's what you were asking.

> Further it seemed to me that most of the members in the discussion
> reasonably saw the need for the HTTP URL to identify a thing and were 
> with some ambiguity, but that TimBL was most adamant that it behave 
> ways in order that it be consistent with his vision for RDF. Would you
> concur or disagree?

I don't think I'd care to comment on that.  The httpRange-14 discussions 
were well along when I joined the TAG, and I prefer not to speak for other 
TAG members such as Tim. 

> BTW, my takeaway from the results of that discussion (thus far) is that
> things might have been much different had RDF not been a central focus 
> TimBL at that time. That seems to me to be a shame considering how RDF 
> still only used on the periphery of the web and certainly not as part of 
> mainstream web.  And IMO, RDF will probably never make the mainstream
> because it requires people to be too concise, and people in general are 
> good at being concise (witness the percentage of HTML files on the web 
> validate...) 

Well, we can all make our own bets as to which W3C technologies will be 
broadly adopted, but there's no question that the Semantic Web and RDF 
represent a major investment for the W3C as a whole, not just for Tim. 
Many, many people have worked hard on it.  I confess that for some years I 
was unconvinced that I knew how to position it relative to XML.  XML is a 
major investment for companies like IBM (my employer), and the use cases 
for XML and for RDF overlap quite a bit.  Eight years ago I didn't see how 
we could make a major investment in both during the same period, and to a 
significant degree we didn't.   Most of the focus went to XML.

Speaking for myself, I think the industry is now starting to clearly see 
the ways that the semantic web adds value beyond what was in the 
traditional HTML-based Web and XML.  In particular, I find things like 
dbpedia to represent a fascinating example of how data can be shared and 
re-aggregated on a global scale.  In some sense, I'm saying that I find 
the goal of "linked data" more immediately helpful than the goal "semantic 
web", but they're closely related, and I'm in any case not against doing a 
careful job on the semantics in the cases where doing so adds value.  In 
short, I personally think that the Semantic Web effort is going to start 
to pay off soon.  Just how successful it will be, none of us knows, I 
guess.  As to whether httpRange14 would have come up anyway, I'm not sure. 
 There certainly seems to be value in having first class identifiers for 
tangible things as well as for information resources, and having all those 
identifiers come out of the same namespace makes a lot of sense.  Being 
able to follow links to information about tangible things and to 
distinguish the resource that's tangible from the resource that's "about" 
the tangible one also makes sense.  So, I think this discussion would have 
value even if the semantic web itself weren't the motivation.

BTW: I'm not sure it makes sense to go to far with this discussion here. 
www-tag is a public list, and much of this ground has been covered there. 
If there's more to discuss on httpRange-14, wouldn't it make sense to do 
it on www-tag?  Thanks.


Noah Mendelsohn 
IBM Corporation
One Rogers Street
Cambridge, MA 02142

Received on Wednesday, 19 December 2007 20:28:51 UTC