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Re: resources and URIs

From: Jonathan Borden <jonathan@openhealth.org>
Date: Wed, 16 Jul 2003 23:20:13 -0400
Message-ID: <054e01c34c12$59668880$b6f5d3ce@svhs.local>
To: "Tim Bray" <tbray@textuality.com>
Cc: "pat hayes" <phayes@ihmc.us>, <www-tag@w3.org>, "Pat Hayes" <phayes@ai.uwf.edu>

Tim Bray wrote:

> One important differentiating characteristic is that today's Web
> concretely exists, is rather well-debugged, and is daily use by hundreds
> of millions.  I believe one important part of the TAG's mandate is to
> write down the architectural principles that underly this success story,
> which is all that the webarch doc has really tried to do up to this
> point in time.
> I am not against the TAG trying to contribute to documenting
> architectural principles of the SW work (although I'd personally have
> little to contribute); but that is going to be much harder than
> documenting the empirically-observable principles that keep today's web
> humming.

I understand entirely. The issue that doesn't seem to have any sort of
consensus at the moment is [httpRange-14] which seems to be a rather basic
_architectural_ issue. I'm all for documenting empirically-observable
principles, heck that's called Science.

> > If we are going to concern the "SW" at least as it is incarnated in
> > activities and specific software products (i.e. RDF and OWL related
> > software), then you may certainly be a part of the Web without a URI.
> > the statement is not correct in the SW context -- I'm not entirely
> > that it is correct in the 'current Web' context e.g.
> This might be a nice clear clean differentiating principle, because I'm
> pretty convinced that at the moment, something that doesn't have a URI
> isn't part of the Web.

I can accept that if it stated as a definition. What I'm not sure about is
whether I can be sure of this on the basis of empirical data e.g. my wife
will provide evidence to the fact that I am a part of the Web, yet I don't
have a URI. Now you might not accept her evidence, which is where we get
into the issue of this really being a definition of what it means to be 'on
the Web' -- I can accept that.

> >
> > Am *I* a part of the Web? I assert that I am a resource which is
providing a
> > representation via a proxy that is part of the Web (by your definition).
> > That is to say my email address mailto:jonathan@openhealth.org is a URI
> > which folks may communicate with *me* but I assert that it is not *my
> > rather the URI of my mailbox. Is that a problem?
> That's not a problem problem.  There is a resource identified by that
> URI.  Today's Web doesn't have any way to talk formally and
> machine-readably about what that resource is, so the issue of whether it
> identifies Dr. Borden or his emailbox is just not on the table.  Clearly
> the question of what the resource is is of concern to humans and is
> readily dealt with in human language; for example, your admirably-clear
> assertion of what you'd like mailto:jonathan@openhealth.org to mean.
> But today's Web doesn't care.

OK, then we can resolve [httpRange-14] by saying that today's Web doesn't
care. I can accept that.

> >>... but please don't try to stop us from
> >>writing down an accurate description of reality as it empirically is.
> >
> > Certainly reality includes RDF applications which date back to 1999? Are
> > limiting your definition to HTTP servers? You ought not.
> As noted above, it is appropriate to attack the problem of writing down
> the architectural bases of the SW world-view.  But today's Web will
> continue to exist independent of SW superstructure, however useful, and
> it's very important to capture the principles of its operation.  Which I
> think the webarch doc is starting to do a good job of.

I guess my issue is that you are asking us to assume a definition of the Web
which you hold inside your head -- in conversing with you I actually sort of
see where you are going with this definition, but in reading webarch, the
Web is defined as:

"The World Wide Web (or, Web) is a networked information system consisting
of agents (programs acting on behalf of a person, entity, or process) that
exchange information."

Which seems to me to be significantly broader, and in specific to entirely
encompass what I see as the SW. Indeed the above definition suggests that
the Web is designed for machine to machine communication. For example the
DARPA _Agent_ Markup Language http://www.daml.org/about.html. Empirically,
when I read this document, DAML seems to be about the Web as WebArch
currently defines it.

If WebArch were to make the explicit declaration that its principles are
intended to be used for a network of human readable documents, then I would
be less tempted to discuss so-called SW principles.

Received on Wednesday, 16 July 2003 23:20:29 UTC

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