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Re: making progress on httpRange-14 -- yet another suggestion

From: Roy T. Fielding <fielding@gbiv.com>
Date: Fri, 6 May 2005 13:08:29 -0700
Message-Id: <c346d2d70a11d43408dd68b32f65b172@gbiv.com>
Cc: W3C TAG <www-tag@w3.org>
To: hhalpin@ibiblio.org

On May 6, 2005, at 10:30 AM, hhalpin@ibiblio.org wrote:
> I would have to agree with Roy on some level - yes, it's obvious Tim
> Bray's blog "ongoing" is on some level *part* of Tim Bray.

No, you completely misunderstood my point.  This has nothing to
do with Tim Bray the person (aside from probably annoying him, for
which I apologize ;-).

I was pointing out that what some people call an information
resource, namely the blog called "ongoing", has the same basic
properties of any resource (including a person), and leads to the
same set of ambiguities when talking about the URI and what it
identifies.  Adding (or subtracting) "#" does absolutely nothing
to reduce that ambiguity.  Claiming the "http" only refers to
information resources does absolutely nothing to reduce that
ambiguity.  It could be moved to a new URI and it would still
be "ongoing". It could even be passed on to Tim's son at some
future point in time and it would still be "ongoing".  It exists
as an abstract entity every bit as much as any person, with the
exception that Tim won't go to jail if he deletes it.

Namespace trees should not be forced into a flat topology just
because some people think an abstraction can't be represented
on the Web.  Those people are wrong -- there are millions of
abstractions represented on the Web right now and they aren't
going to go away just to make it easier for computers to do AI.

In short, httpRange-14 is a pointless discussion around an
insufficient solution to a particular problem inherent in
communication. Folks are wasting their time on stupid hacks that
violate the basic principles of HTTP just to impose an inadequate
attempt at disambiguation for a particular class of resources
on the SemWeb (a class of resources that are almost never
identified using http URIs anyway).

Once we accept that it is impossible to disambiguate resources
by changing their names (because people will simply use those
new names in ambiguous ways), we might be able to make progress
on the real problems of the SemWeb by applying other methods of

My personal favorite is to make the relations specific about
whether they refer to the resource or a set of representations,
which is something that can be done in a definitional sense
without changing any of the technology [though it would help a
great deal if the technology supported temporally-qualified
assertions]. That way, people and machines don't need to
create ambiguous assertions in the first place.


Roy T. Fielding                            <http://roy.gbiv.com/>
Chief Scientist, Day Software              <http://www.day.com/>
Received on Friday, 6 May 2005 20:10:42 UTC

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