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Re: New TAG issue: genericResources-53

From: Pat Hayes <phayes@ihmc.us>
Date: Thu, 1 Jun 2006 15:29:28 -0500
Message-Id: <p06230919c0a4f8979ec4@[]>
To: noah_mendelsohn@us.ibm.com
Cc: www-tag@w3.org

>(I'm leaving the tag-announce list off the distribution for this followup.)
>Pat Hayes writes:
>>  Can you tell us, or point us to where it is told, what a
>>  'conceptual resource' is? The phrase does not seem to occur
>>  anywhere else in the TAG issues list, and I have not seen it before.
>The new TAG issue entry [1] has a link to some 
>of Tim's earlier writings on Generic Resources 

Yes, I had seen that, thanks. However, this piece 
of writing is now very old, and the notion of 
'resource' it uses does not seem to correspond to 
the way that this word has been used more 
recently, particularly by the TAG. (I hope that 
neither the weather report from Oaxaca, nor the 
weather itself, are going to be described as 
Platonic ideals... :-)

>  There Tim writes:
>"A URI represents a resource
>A "resource" is a conceptual entity (a little 
>like a Platonic ideal). When represented 
>electronically, a resource may be of the kind 
>which corresponds to only one posisble bit 
>stream representation. An example is the text 
>version of an Internet RFC. That never changes. 
>It will always ha the same checksum.
>On the other hand, a resource may be generic in 
>that as a concept it is well specified but not 
>so specifically specified that it can only be 
>represented by a single bit stream. In this 
>case, other URIs may exist which identify a 
>resource more specifically. These other URIs 
>identify resources too, and there is a 
>relationship of genericity between the generic 
>and the relatively specific resource.
>As an example, successively specific resources might be
>    1. The Bible
>    2. The Bible, King James Version
>    3. The Bible, KJV, in English
>    4. A particular ASCII rendering of the KJV Bible in English
>Each resource may have a URI. The authority 
>which allocates the URI is the authority which 
>determines wo what it refers: Therefore, that 
>authority determines to what extent that 
>resource is generic or specific.
>This model is more of an observation of a 
>requirement than an implementation decision. 
>Multilevel gnericity clarly exists in all our 
>current life with books and electronic 
>documents. Adoption of this model simply follows 
>from the rule that Web design should not 
>arbitrarily seek to constrain life in general 
>for its own purposes."
>This quote from Tim doesn't use term "conceptual 
>resource", but it does mention "conceptual 
>entities" in a sense that I find at least 
>informally suggestive of what we're trying to 
>put on the table for discussion.  

Well, OK, though I have to tell you that if this 
is the best y'all can do, you havn't yet managed 
to make this sense very clear to others. But 
thanks for trying :-)


PS. Here's a thought that may possibly be useful, 
suggested by Tim's biblical example. One 
tradition in ontology says that all 'conceptual' 
things can ultimately be identified with 
*classes* of concrete (physical, perhaps 
mereological) things, and that hierarchies of 
abstraction map then into simpler hierarchies of 
subclass relationships. This isn't at all a 
Platonic view, of course: it turns 
classical/medieval ideas on their heads. Not all 
subclass relationships correspond to 
abstractions, of course, but abstraction reduces 
to a special case of subclassing. On this view, 
'the Bible' refers to the set of *all* concrete 
instantiations of the work, construed as broadly 
as possible; the KJV is the subset of all 
concrete instantiations of the KJ version, etc.. 
This POV has some merits as a way of keeping ones 
thinking about these issues grounded in something 
basically very simple, and of course it fits very 
nicely with RDF/OWL styles of description. For 
Web purposes the natural  'concrete' base level 
would seem to be (?) information resources, or 
perhaps their 'representations' (in the special 
TAG sense).

This is not a popular view among philosophers, as 
I expect you know, probably because it smacks of 
reductionism: but (1) it has strong roots in the 
foundations of mathematics (eg how numbers are 
constructed in set theory) (2) it seems to work, 
and (3) it handles things like certain kinds of 
vagueness and ambiguity very neatly ('Everest' 
refers to the set of all the possible concrete 
ways of drawing an Everest-boundary, of which 
there may be an infinite number, but each is a 
sharp-edged physical thing with normal physical 
properties, which can then be abstracted to get 
the properties of Everest-the-category. You see 
how it goes.)

Anyway, I'd suggest that if this topic ever seems 
to be vanishing into hyperventilation, re-stating 
it in these terms might be a useful exercise :-)

>[1] http://www.w3.org/2001/tag/issues.html#genericResources-53
>[2] http://www.w3.org/DesignIssues/Generic
>Noah Mendelsohn
>IBM Corporation
>One Rogers Street
>Cambridge, MA 02142

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Received on Thursday, 1 June 2006 20:29:43 UTC

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