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Re: reference needed - w3.org versioned documents

From: <noah_mendelsohn@us.ibm.com>
Date: Mon, 7 Apr 2008 00:40:55 -0400
To: Jonathan Rees <jar@creativecommons.org>
Cc: Pat Hayes <phayes@ihmc.us>, "Williams, Stuart (HP Labs, Bristol)" <skw@hp.com>, "www-tag@w3.org" <www-tag@w3.org>
Message-ID: <OF1C38F687.B6BEBF2E-ON85257423.0081AEBC-85257424.0019A23C@lotus.com>

Jonathan Rees writes:

> I agree with most of what you say, and your question is a perfectly 
> fine one.

Good, thank you.

> My answer is that IMO there is value in httpRange-14, even if 
> there isn't significant practical value.

> [...}

> httpRange-14 is useful in that if a 200 comes from a server that 
> adheres to it, AND you know that the server adheres to it, then you 
> learn that the thing is an IR, and therefore not a hen's egg or 
> doorjamb or protein function. The preconditions are a tall order, and 
> the result not terribly informative, and probably not useful to a 
> computational agent. But it's better than nothing, and might give 
> guidance to a human trying to understand the URI.
> The utility of httpRange-14 is significantly reduced as long as not 
> all minters of URIs for non-IRs adhere to it. I have no idea what the 
> penetration of httpRange-14 is, but my guess is that it is and will 
> remain low.

My concern with the above is that it seems to be based on the assumption 
that carrying forward the httpRange-14 decision is a low cost path, so if 
proomoting it generates even small incremental value, we should.  I think 
that in practice we've seen that there has been considerable cost to 
httpRange-14, at least insofar as it's caused confusion.  Users seem to 
have trouble agreeing on what an information resource is, whether or not 
it's necessarily the same as a "document", and thus how to apply the 
decision and what one can in fact infer from a 200.  I think we should 
stick with the httpRange-14 decision iff we can show that it will be 
widely understood and deployed, and that it will in typical cases deliver 
the value we expect.

One thing that particularly troubles me in what you've written is the 
precondition "if a 200 comes from a server that adheres to it, AND you 
know that the server adheres to it, then...".  Regardless of the merits of 
the httpRange-14 decision in particular, the whole point of the 
self-describing Web is that we should avoid relying on such prior 
"private" agreements between server and client.   If we can get to the 
point where a relatively high percentage of resource deployers understand 
the concept of Information Resource, and get them to use 200 as the 
httpRange-14 decision suggests, and if that indeed proves practical in 
helping semantic Web users to distinguish IR's from others, fine.  Saying 
that httpRange-14 has value because select pairs of client and server will 
agree to observe it doesn't seem right to me.

Thank you.


Noah Mendelsohn 
IBM Corporation
One Rogers Street
Cambridge, MA 02142
Received on Monday, 7 April 2008 04:41:08 UTC

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