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Re: Describing the "nature" of a resource

From: John Cowan <cowan@ccil.org>
Date: Wed, 16 May 2007 17:26:13 -0400
To: Norman Walsh <ndw@nwalsh.com>
Cc: www-tag@w3.org
Message-ID: <20070516212613.GB27671@mercury.ccil.org>

Norman Walsh scripsit:

> For example:
> <http://docbook.org/xml/5.0b1/rng/docbook.rng>
>    assoc:nature <http://relaxng.org/ns/structure/1.0> .
> asserts that the nature of the docbook.rng file is a RELAX NG grammar.
> The concern raised was that such a statement is a statement of opinion
> and not of fact. This is even easier to see in cases like HTML 4 where
> we assert the nature of a resource by pointing to its normative
> specification. It's not hard to imagine the existence of formats for
> which the normative specification is *clearly* a matter of opinion.

I think this confuses the fact/opinion distinction with the distinction
between fuzzy and strict categories.  "Sandpile" is a fuzzy category,
for although removing one grain from a sandpile still leaves a sandpile,
this does not apply all the way down (there are no one-grain, still
less zero-grain, "sandpiles"), and there is no saying how many grains
a sandpile must have in order to be one.  Nevertheless, the judgment
"This is a sandpile", though it is one on which reasonable people may
disagree, is still a matter of fact rather than opinion, for there is
no tinge of evaluativeness about it it speaks to true/false, not good/bad.

(To clarify further, fuzzy/strict is also distinction from prototypical/
classical; "bird" is a strict category though prototypically defined,
whereas "sandpile" is fuzzy but classical.)

> This "docRootEltName" property points to a list which identifies the
> namespace name and local name of the root element. This clearly is a
> matter of fact, not opinion.

It certainly is.  But it is not always useful:  an XSLT transform
need not begin with an xslt:stylesheet or xslt:transform element.

> CSS                     content-type    text/css

Again, what does this mean?  It is by no means the case that
retrieving a representation of a CSS document returns an entity
body with a media type of text/css, nor vice versa.

A rabbi whose congregation doesn't want         John Cowan
to drive him out of town isn't a rabbi,         http://www.ccil.org/~cowan
and a rabbi who lets them do it                 cowan@ccil.org
isn't a man.    --Jewish saying
Received on Wednesday, 16 May 2007 21:26:16 UTC

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