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Re: article on URIs, is this material that can be used by the SWEO IG?

From: Pat Hayes <phayes@ihmc.us>
Date: Mon, 11 Jun 2007 15:32:36 -0500
Message-Id: <p0623090ec2935f91571b@[]>
To: Tim Berners-Lee <timbl@w3.org>
Cc: ht@inf.ed.ac.uk (Henry S. Thompson), Dan Brickley <danbri@danbri.org>, www-tag@w3.org

>On 2007-06 -11, at 12:04, Pat Hayes wrote:
>>>Hash: SHA1
>>>John Cowan writes:
>>>>  Tim Berners-Lee scripsit:
>>>>>  When the word Representation is used, I prefer to use it strictly for
>>>>>  the relationship between an information resource such as a page about
>>>>>  a person and the (metadata, bits) pair, and not for the relationship
>>>>>  between the person described and the (metadata, bits) pair.
>>>>  Suit yourself, of course.
>>>>  But I prefer to suppose that the (metadata, bits) pair you get when
>>>>  fetching http://www.heritage.org/images/shakespeare.jpg is not merely a
>>>>  representation of that particular JPEG, but also of Shakespeare himself,
>>>>  as the publisher of that particular resource must surely have intended --
>>>>  they would scarcely have bothered to publish it if they meant it to be
>>>>  just some JPEG rather than a picture of Shakespeare.
>>>Stop, you're both right [1].  The (metadata, bits) pair is a
>>>representation of the resource.  The resource is a depiction (a kind
>>>of representation) of Shakespeare.  To some extent, 'represents' is
>>Whaaa??? No, it is NOT transitive. A photograph of a book 
>>describing a statue of George V is not a representation of George V.
>Agreed. But this seems to be a conversation about english words, not 
>the the web architecture.
>One could say, in *english*,  that the (bits, metadata) represent a 
>picture,  which represents a person, who represents the House of 
>Representatives which represents the people of the USA, which 
>represent the culmination of billions of years of evolution.  In 
>each case the word 'representation' is used in a different way. 
>That is a distraction.  ("what do you mean by 'angel' and 'pin' 

It would be all just angels and pins if it weren't for the semantic 
Web. OWL and RDF purport to be representations, and not in the TAG 
sense. It really is important to get this, perhaps not finally sorted 
out, but at least not totally muddled. And the TAG documents are 
written in English, anyway.

>>The basic problem, seems to me, is that y'all (by which I mean the 
>>TAG mostly) are using words like "represent" far too loosely.
>The TAG uses (I hope)  tag:representation only as a relationship 
>between a tag:InformationResource and a tag:Representation, the 
>latter being the class of (bits, metadata) pairs.  It is not 
>transitive.  (I would say that its range and domain do not even 
>When you see people on the www-tag list using words more loosely, 
>they may be trying to understand the architecture, or suggesting it 
>be modified, or talking about how  systems other than the semantic 
>web work, do not assume that the use of words is consistent with the 
>constrained use in the arch document, and later discussions of the 
>semantic web architecture, try to achieve.

OK, I am suitably chastened. Dan C also chewed my arse on this 
matter. I will refrain from TAG-bashing in future. I meant TAG 
members, but that wasn't clear, and in any case that would be 
ad-hominem which is also rude. Sorry.

But you know, the W3C is using up important words rather casually. 
Already XML has grabbed "entity". Now the TAG has used "represent" 
and its cognates to have a very limited, technical meaning. It gets 
harder and harder to even say what one means without tripping over 
for the lack of a free English word. I don't know a good synonym for 
the more general usage of "represent" in philosophy, linguistics, AI 
and semiotics. The best I can do for "entity" is "thing", which 
sounds rather infra dig.


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Received on Monday, 11 June 2007 20:33:10 UTC

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