W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-tag@w3.org > April 2008

Re: Uniform access to descriptions

From: Pat Hayes <phayes@ihmc.us>
Date: Mon, 14 Apr 2008 12:01:09 -0500
Message-Id: <p06230905c4293ac70cae@[]>
To: wangxiao@musc.edu
Cc: "Eric J. Bowman" <eric@bisonsystems.net>, Michaeljohn Clement <mj@mjclement.com>, "www-tag@w3.org WG" <www-tag@w3.org>, noah_mendelsohn@us.ibm.com, Jonathan Rees <jar@creativecommons.org>, Phil Archer <parcher@icra.org>, "Williams, Stuart (HP Labs, Bristol)" <skw@hp.com>
At 10:55 AM +0100 4/14/08, Xiaoshu Wang wrote:
>Let's me give you a *real world* example that you may (or have 
>already) encounter in the real world. Say, you go to a post office 
>to get a package.  A lady named Jane happily greets you. You gives 
>her your package slip. She looked at it and then say "Go out and 
>come back again", you don't know why but nevertheless follow her 
>instruction and come back.  She then took your slip and give you the 
>What does that make you feel?  Wouldn't you feel compelled to ask 
>her: why the hell you want me to go out and come back again? Her 
>reply would be - and you have argued for her - "because I have to 
>follow the *proper* procedure!"

Let me modify the example to give a better analogy to http-range-14.

Jane greets you and looks at the slip, then she gives it back to you 
and says, "Please take it over there (pointing to another counter) 
and give it to John."  And you do, and after you stand in line again, 
John gives you your package.

You ask him (or someone else) why Jane couldn't have just handed it 
to you herself, and the answer is that your package is sent by the 
Government, and Jane is the private-package clerk, so if she had just 
given it to you, you would have been legally justified in assuming 
that the package was sent by a private person rather than by the 
Government. And you might say, but I don't give a damn who sent it; 
and they would say, Ah yes, you may not, but some people think this 
distinction is very important, and they could sue us for many 
millions of dollars if we were to accidentally imply the wrong 
information about a package. And you might object: wouldn't it be 
simpler to have a notice over Jane's counter which says 
'non-government packages only' or some such, or maybe have a notice 
on the entry door telling you to go one way if the package is from 
the Government and another way if it is from a private sender? And 
the answer is, first, you might not know who sent your package; and 
second, the overwhelming majority of packages are private, so its 
much more efficient to assume that case first, and then deal with the 
exceptions by moving them elsewhere; and third, most people (just 
like you) don't care anyway, so they aren't even thinking about 
government vs. private senders, and they will just get confused by 
such notices.

>What do we call this in real life?

One of those unfortunate minor nuisances which waste small pieces of 
time. Life is full of them. Sigh.


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Received on Monday, 14 April 2008 17:01:55 UTC

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