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Re: resources and URIs

From: Norman Walsh <Norman.Walsh@Sun.COM>
Date: Mon, 28 Jul 2003 13:42:55 -0400
To: www-tag@w3.org
Message-ID: <8765lmczts.fsf@nwalsh.com>

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/ pat hayes <phayes@ihmc.us> was heard to say:
|>On Tue, 2003-07-15 at 18:20, pat hayes wrote:
[...]
|>  >   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?

  [ I'll play devil's advocate for a moment. I may even believe some
    of what I'm about to write :-) ]

| 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?

Yes and no. Yes, in the sense that I can imagine distinguishing
between each of those things, but no, in the sense that I think all of
them can be "on the web".

Think of it this way: the network is full of proxies. On my laptop,
I'm running a local proxy, so if I request http://www.w3.org/TR/, I
might get my cached copy and be none the wiser. Even if the request
escapes off my laptop, it may get served back by Sun's firewall proxy
and beyond that by other proxies on the network. By extension, I have
no trouble accepting that the web server running on norman.walsh.name
functions as a proxy for me when requests are made for
/knows/who#norman-walsh. Similarly, I have no trouble with Tim's
server proxying for him when requests are made for
http://www.tbray.org/ongoing/misc/Tim.

What possible difference can it make if the thing at the very end, the
thing without its proxies, is a set of files on a disk or a person or
a galaxy?

If I tell you I've been exchanging mail with this Tim character and I
identify him by sending you the URI above, you can look at that page
and I expect it's only the vary rarest of individuals that will have
trouble understanding that I mean Tim the person not the multi-media
bag of bits that your browser displays if you do a GET on that URI.

Some people (I won't attempt to put words in your mouth) respond to
this by saying that the machines won't be able to tell. But machines can't
tell anything. I've lost the focus about why disambiguating

  <http://www.tbray.org/ongoing/misc/Tim> rdf:type ex:Person .
  <http://www.tbray.org/ongoing/misc/Tim> rdf:type ex:WebPage .

which (might) conflict is anymore important or difficult or different than
disambiguating

  <http://www.example.com/kr#foo> rdf:type ex:Peacock .
  <http://www.example.com/kr#foo> rdf:type ex:GardenSlug .

Surely garden slugs and peacocks are disjoint.

Conflicting assertion happens. (A truth which is often expressed more
concisely and less urbanely :-)

                                        Be seeing you,
                                          norm

- -- 
Norman.Walsh@Sun.COM    | The stone fell on the pitcher? Woe to the
XML Standards Architect | pitcher. The pitcher fell on the stone? Woe
Web Tech. and Standards | to the pitcher.--Rabbinic Saying
Sun Microsystems, Inc.  | 
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Received on Monday, 28 July 2003 13:43:20 UTC

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