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Re: resources and URIs

From: Jonathan Borden <jonathan@openhealth.org>
Date: Fri, 18 Jul 2003 18:45:47 -0400
Message-ID: <080901c34d7e$58446040$b6f5d3ce@svhs.local>
To: "Dan Connolly" <connolly@w3.org>, "pat hayes" <phayes@ihmc.us>
Cc: <www-tag@w3.org>

pat hayes wrote:

> >>
> >>  On this picture, the information (which Dan, in your introductory
> >>  example, reads on his screen, and which is in some sense all about the
> >>  weather in Oaxaca) is a representation of the (current state of) some
> >>  entity *in the WWW itself*: a resource in the global information
> >>  network: the state of some computer system, or maybe some abstraction
> >>  of a computer system.
> >>
> >>  However, it is also clear that neither the weather in Oaxala, nor
> >>  Oaxala itself, are entities of this kind:
> >
> >it is?
>
> Yes, it is. That is, the category of things that can be actually "on"
> an information network in the sense of being physically connected to
> it does not encompass things like regions of Mexico, or weather.

If we accept the postulate that resources which are 'on the Web' are those
with a URI, suppose a new URI scheme "photo" which to skip the details of
any specific implementations, has a protocol that results in a digital
photographic representation when dereferenced. I know I am stretching your
current conceptions of information network, but surely you are aware of
optical networking, and I know you have sufficient ability to generalize the
concept of an information networks to something beyond ethernet over copper.
For example RFC 1149.


>
> >  >   weather and cities in Mexico are not the kind of entities which can
> >>  be thought of as 'objects on the networked information system'.
> >
> >Yes, they are; I think of them that way.
>
> OK, then you are apparently able to think in a way that is not
> accessible to me. Could you elucidate this way of thinking, at all?
> For example, is there *anything* that, in your way of thinking, could
> not be part of an information network? Is there any distinction, in
> your way of thinking, between being in some sense physically attached
> to an information system, being an entity transferred over an
> information network, and being referred to by a symbolic expression
> stored in an information system?

I can certainly accept those distinctions. It's the "physically attached to
an information network" that I can be rather flexible with -- for example I
*am* physically attached to such a network at the moment my fingers are
pecking at my keyboard ... but suppose you are sitting with a laptop
connected to a network via wireless ... is that a physical connection?

>
> >  >  Other examples abound,
> >>  eghttp://chandra.harvard.edu/photo/2003/ngc1068/index.html  is in
> >>  clearly about a galaxy containing a supermassive black hole, which is
> >>  also not something one would expect to find as part of an networked
> >>  information system, given the likely physical constraints on network
> >>  architecture.
> >
> >I think that particular identifier refers to a document about
> >a galaxy, not the galaxy itself; if you want to refer to
> >the galaxy itself, you should use a URI with a # in it.
>
> I know this general rule: it makes some sense of the usage which has
> emerged for the SW languages. But you are talking about *referring
> to*; whereas my point was about being *part of* a network. I agree
> that a URI reference might well refer to a galaxy: but - and this was
> my point in sending the message - that doesn't seem to be anything
> like the same claim that a galaxy is *part of* an information network
> or (to refer for a moment to the language used in RFC 2396) that by
> having a URI reference which refers to the galaxy one is thereby
> enabled to *perform operations on* the galaxy.
>

Why not? If I shine a light on a galaxy, I am not performing operations on
it? Sounds like quantum computing to me :-) Seriously, what actual
distinction are you making? If you mean 'network' as defined by a finite set
of hardware and software specifications, which we can list, then our concept
of 'network' will be outdated before it is published given the apparent rate
of new networking products and specifications. My own definition of
information network would include electronic, photonic, biological and
chemical processes. Of course I'd prefer to define an architecture that is
still relevent in 10 years.

Jonathan
Received on Friday, 18 July 2003 18:45:56 UTC

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