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RE: reference needed - w3.org versioned documents

From: Williams, Stuart (HP Labs, Bristol) <skw@hp.com>
Date: Tue, 1 Apr 2008 09:44:45 +0000
To: Jonathan Rees <jar@creativecommons.org>
CC: Pat Hayes <phayes@ihmc.us>, "www-tag@w3.org" <www-tag@w3.org>
Message-ID: <9674EA156DA93A4F855379AABDA4A5C611A1DDFC5D@G5W0277.americas.hpqcorp.net>

Hello Jonathan,

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Jonathan Rees [mailto:jar@creativecommons.org]
> Sent: 31 March 2008 19:59
> To: Williams, Stuart (HP Labs, Bristol)
> Cc: Pat Hayes; www-tag@w3.org
> Subject: Re: reference needed - w3.org versioned documents
> On Mar 31, 2008, at 1:48 PM, Williams, Stuart (HP Labs,
> Bristol) wrote:
> [...]
> > Is the answer not evident from the references is Felix Sasaki's
> > response?
> >         http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-tag/2008Mar/0136
> > A "latest version" URI, which identifies the most recently
> > published draft in a document series.
> >>
> No. Nothing tells me anything about *which* document series is
> involved,

Well... the title of the document that Felix referenced into [1] is:

        "W3C Technical Reports and Publications"

[1] http://www.w3.org/TR/#versioning

> or provides me with any invariants over the elements of the
> series, or tells me the process by which new drafts are produced, or
> even what the past drafts were.

Close to the top of that document is a reference with link text of
"Technical Report Publication Rules" which references a page [2] which
is a jumping off point for W3C's 'pubrule'
[2] http://www.w3.org/2005/07/pubrules

> So not only do I not know what the
> named entity *is*, I don't know much about it.

Well... for the most part the TR collection contains technical reports
which for the most part are intended for human consumption.

Follow a link to any one of them and I'd hazard that you (a person) would
be able to tell what you have referenced. Granted you might not be able to
tell the subtle difference between a resource with a 'dated' URI and an 'undated'

[I put 'dated' and 'undated' in scare quotes because the primary purpose
of including a 'date' in the URI is to engender some uniqueness and avoid collisions
rather than to communicate a date].

Picking on the current SPARQL recommendation [3], the opening "Status of this Document" section tells you (lest you need further reassurance) that you are indeed looking at a document; that it's a "W3C technical report"; that the report is a W3C recommendation (hyperlinked to the part of the W3C Process document that explains how W3C recommendations come to be) ; that it may be superceded at any time; and provides a link to an index of other technical reports.

Ok... it is all narrative, but with a little generousity I think that you could see how all those statments could be embedded as machine readable RDF (self description). Alternatively, if something link the Link: header approach were widely adopted, a reference to a separate description of the document could be provided - maybe that is the nub of your complaint.

I think you are told directly and indirectly alot more about the document than you seem willing to accept being told.

[3] http://www.w3.org/TR/2008/REC-rdf-sparql-protocol-20080115/

> There's little I can
> say about it that will be understood by someone reading what I say at
> an unknown future time.

What would you like to be able to say and how would you want to be able to justify you statements?

Would you not agree that at least for 'human' agents a great deal of that can be ascertained starting from the document itself and following links.

I think that the W3C itself is atypical in that respect - I think that you would have a great deal more trouble in determining what


refers to. I could hazard a guess, but I would be on a much less firmer footing.

> I don't know who is going to have written
> whatever the "most recently published draft" will be at the time my
> statements about it are read, or what the draft will be saying, or
> even what the draft will be about.

So if you are going to make assertions of provenance then they are probably best made about the 'dated' resources.

> The URI might be useful
> heuristically as a hyperlink ("see xxx to see a most recently
> published draft of the zzz working group's spec... probably") but I
> don't see how it's useful as a name to be used in discourse
> (e.g. RDF).

I believe that somewhere someone has crawled the TR collection and generated RDF [4] about the reports, their inter-relations and dependencies (hmmm... took some finding, but believing in it's existence helped - and a search turned up a page about the project that results in the RDF [5] which speaks of [4], in narrative link text, as "formalized and authoritative list of W3C Technical Reports in RDF").

Anyway... the point is to say that there seems to me to be some useful discourse that finds the names useful.

[4] http://www.w3.org/2002/01/tr-automation/tr.rdf
[5] http://www.w3.org/2002/01/tr-automation/

> If I do some detective work I may be able to figure out invariants
> such as the series's subject matter or working group affiliation (and
> the WG's charter), and if I do a *lot* of detective work I might find
> some piece of email or some minutes that say how the URI is going to
> be used, but before I get to that point I will have decided that it's
> not worth the effort to try to use or understand that URI. If I'm
> unfortunate enough to find that someone else has used it in
> communication with me, then I'll have to make assumptions (e.g. that
> the draft they were talking about is close enough to the one I see)
> or enter into dialog with them (which draft are you talking about? or
> what invariants do you know about the series that I don't know?) or
> attempt to verify what they say (since it is probably very easy to be
> wrong in making statements about things like this).

I'm not saying 'everything' is perfect... but I think that the situation is not a dire as you seem to be suggesting.

> Jonathan


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Received on Tuesday, 1 April 2008 09:48:56 UTC

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