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

From: <noah_mendelsohn@us.ibm.com>
Date: Tue, 30 May 2006 17:42:33 -0400
To: "Bullard, Claude L \(Len\)" <len.bullard@intergraph.com>
Cc: "Frank Manola" <fmanola@acm.org>, www-tag@w3.org
Message-ID: <OF57212896.AB6565A0-ON8525717E.006BA8CF-8525717E.007740E1@lotus.com>

Len Bullard writes:

> It is reasonable to assume nothing until using the service.  First
> access is blind.  What the claims establish are the conditions to test
> by access (is this a weather report), and in some claims, repeated
> access (is this the best weather report).   The proof is in the using.
> The metadata presents claims to be verified. The URI is agnostic to the
> metadata claims.  It is the user that has to be reasonable through
> observation (use and memory of use).

I'm not sure I see things quite this way.  Consider the weather report 
example.  While it's true that a user or even software can often determine 
that data is erroneous, e.g. because what came back was a stock quote 
instead of a weather report, it's atypical to be able to prove that the 
data is correct.  I may, for example, be satisfied that the information 
retrieved >appears to be< a weather forecast for the intended city, but my 
trust that it is a correct, current and reliable forecast is likely to be 
based in part on just the sorts of external factors mentioned in the draft 
finding.  So, if I see the URI listed on a seemingly current billboard for 
a known source of good weather forecasts, that contributes to my belief 
that the forecast retrieved is in fact a good one.  If I get a similar web 
page by trying random URIs, I may note that it looks like a weather 
forecast, but I will trust it a lot less.

So, I agree that to some extent the metadata is suspect, but I don't agree 
with the implication that the verification will come entirely from 
inspection of the retrieved representation.  It's certainly desirable for 
representations on the Web to be self-describing, but I think that some of 
the trust one has in the information retrieved can be based on other 
representations made by the resource authority.  These may be in the form 
of normative specifications for its URI assignment policies, or may be 
provided less formally (and probably less reliably) in advertisements and 
the like.

> AFAIK, there is no architectural solution to a priori trust of
> information resources.  The web is a caveat emptor system by design.
> Any claims-based system is.

Yes, but the sources of confirming information are not in all cases 
limited to what is retrieved from a GET, but may come from other 
specifications or statements that can be, with reasonable reliability, 
traced to the assignment authority. 

Noah Mendelsohn 
IBM Corporation
One Rogers Street
Cambridge, MA 02142
Received on Tuesday, 30 May 2006 21:43:16 UTC

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