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Re: [metadataInURI-31] New editors draft for Metadata In URIs Finding

From: <noah_mendelsohn@us.ibm.com>
Date: Mon, 15 May 2006 17:59:08 -0400
To: Frank Manola <fmanola@acm.org>
Cc: www-tag@w3.org
Message-ID: <OFE08344E4.D3D26E99-ON8525716F.0075666C-8525716F.0078DB95@lotus.com>

Frank Manola writes:

> This is useful stuff.


> I did have a couple of comments though:


> In Section 2.2:
> > Bob is using the original URI for more than its intended purpose, 
> > which is to identify the Chicago weather page. Instead, he's 
> > inferring from it information about the structure of a Web site that,
> >  he guesses, might use a uniform naming convention for the weather in
> >  lots of cities. So, when Bob tries the Boston URI, he has to be 
> > prepared for the possibility that his guess will prove wrong: Web 
> > architecture does not guarantee that the retrieved page, if there is 
> > one, has the weather for Boston, or indeed that it contains any 
> > weather report at all. Even if it does, there is no assurance that it
> >  is current weather, that it is intended for reliable use by 
> > consumers, etc. Bob has seen an advertisement listing just the 
> > Chicago URI, and that is the only one for which the URI authority has
> >  taken specific responsibility.
> I don't understand the reference to what "Web architecture" guarantees
> in this paragraph.  I don't think "Web architecture" guarantees that the
> page retrieved from http://example.org/weather/Chicago has the weather
> for Chicago either.  In the case of Chicago, it's the URI authority that
> (as you note) states ("guarantees" seems a bit strong) that
> http://example.org/weather/Chicago will return a Chicago weather page.
> Similarly, it's the URI authority (rather than Web architecture) that
> hasn't made any claims about providing information on Boston weather.

Yes, I see your point.  I think it depends on how broadly you view the 
word "architecture".  You're taking a narrow view, which I think has some 
merit:  i.e., you seem to be saying that the Web Architecture deals only 
with the overt, computer-based mechanisms of the Web.  I took a somewhat 
broader view, which is that the Web is a social system as well as a system 
of protocols and bits.  The architecture includes, at least to some 
degree, the agreements that we as people make in using and deploying the 
Web in a style that will scale well and give good results. 

>From this perspective, I think there is a point of view that if the 
authority for a resource makes a statement about a resource, either by 
writing that statement on the side of a bus as in this example, or by 
writing it in RDF, that the statement can be discussed by Web Architecture 
as I have done.  The Web Architecture clearly has a notion of an authority 
responsible for the assignment of a URI, and I think it's plausible to 
state that their representations about the resource carry weight in this 
larger architectural sense.

I do understand both points of view on this.  I'll give it some thought, 
and see what other commentators think (but please, I think this is worth a 
modest number of messages on www-tag, but not a permathread!)  Thanks.

> > "For the best weather information for your city, visit
> > http://example.org/weather/your-city-name-here."
> > 
> > Reading that advertisement, Bob is entitled to assume that any
> > weather report retrieved from such a URI is both trustworthy and
> > current.
> The appearance of words like "entitled", "trustworthy", and "current" 
> seem to go too far in this context.  The subject here seems to be the 
> authority having documented its URI assignment policy (sort of) in the 
> ad, not the quality of the reports (trustworthy, loyal, helpful, 
> friendly, courteous, ...!). 

On this I don't think I agree.  The ad on the bus did more than document 
an assignment policy;  it claimed that the weather available at the URI 
was "the best".   That establishes expectations (I'm presuming we all 
believe that advertisement was authorized by the URI assignment authority, 
which seems a reasonable assumption.) 

Regarding the word "current": I'm not trying to write the sort of picky 
argument that would stand up in court, but a reasonable person reading an 
advertisement that says "For the best weather information for your 
city..." would be stunned if the advertised weather were in fact a month 
out of date.  So, I think the advertisement does establish an expectation 
that the weather is current. 

Indeed, I think one of the things that's really important about the web, 
as opposed to many other computer networks, is that it's to a significant 
degree designed for use by "ordinary people", who interpret advertisements 
on billboards and busses in their colloquial sense.  I think we want to 
encourage that, and to talk in our findings about how to use the Web in 
ways that achieve it.

Regarding the word trustworthy:  I used the word "trustworthy" in its 
ordinary dictionary sense, as something that can be trusted, and I used 
the word specifically in contrast to information that was guessed.  I 
don't see why that's a problem.  Information provided by the URI 
assignment authority should be trustworthy in that sense, I think.  The 
underlying point is that while us technical wiz's may know how to 
establish authority for a URI, many less knowledgeable users of the Web 
don't even know that such authorities exists.  The finding is intending to 
say:  "Look, someone somewhere has responsibility for each of these URIs, 
and (not surprisingly) they aren't supposed to lie.  So, statements they 
make about a resource should trustworthy.  Start with those if you want to 
know what to trust."  Also, those authotities are obligated to follow the 
pertinent Web specifications and recommendations, so anything covered by 
those you can count on too.

I guess I don't see the problem here.  Thank you an any case for the 
comments.  They are very helpful.

Noah Mendelsohn 
IBM Corporation
One Rogers Street
Cambridge, MA 02142
Received on Monday, 15 May 2006 21:59:20 UTC

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