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Re: Historical - Re: Proposed IETF/W3C task force: "Resource meaning" Review of new HTTPbis text for 303 See Other

From: Xiaoshu Wang <xiao@renci.org>
Date: Tue, 04 Aug 2009 11:42:06 -0400
Message-ID: <4A7856CE.3070003@renci.org>
To: Alan Ruttenberg <alanruttenberg@gmail.com>
CC: Karl Dubost <karl+w3c@la-grange.net>, Tim Berners-Lee <timbl@w3.org>, Pat Hayes <phayes@ihmc.us>, "Roy T. Fielding" <fielding@gbiv.com>, Larry Masinter <masinter@adobe.com>, Julian Reschke <julian.reschke@gmx.de>, Mark Nottingham <mnot@mnot.net>, W3C TAG <www-tag@w3.org>
Alan Ruttenberg wrote:
> On Tue, Aug 4, 2009 at 9:32 AM, Xiaoshu Wang<xiao@renci.org> wrote:
>> Alan Ruttenberg wrote:
>>> We call this "categorization". It doesn't fragment, it organizes. With
>>> the organization come benefits: predictability, auditability,
>>> understandability. Whereas we have at the beginning "anything is
>>> possible in all cases" (which we know isn't really true - we recognize
>>> brokenness on the web all the time) with this sort of categorization
>>> we can start to articulate why some things work as expected and other
>>> things don't.
>> It is true -- that "it organizes".  But the issue is what is suppose to be
>> organized.  Don't you all feel strange that all your discussions have never
>> mentioned the word "representation"?
> No. I personally try to avoid using it whenever possible because as
> far as words go, it's one of the more inconsistently used. I can't
> remember how many senses of "representation" we've gone over in AWWSW
> but it's more than one wants.
This is where AWWW fails.  Sure, like "resource", the word 
"representation" has various kind of senses.  But within the Web, the 
concept of "representation" should be quite clear.  It is what we (both 
human and machines) work with.  We never work with "resources" in the 
Web.  We work with representations.  What GET/POST/DELETE, etc., must 
work through it as well.  It is as simple as that.  I said before, to 
think otherwise is to hallucinate.

To ignore representation is what fails the AWWW.  I am extremely baffled 
by the insistence of aligning our technical term with how the word is 
used in other context.  It can never be done.  Of course, choosing a 
closely related word may help describing the concept but let us be clear 
about the difference between a *description* with a *definition*.

A definition aims at usage.  A description aims at comprehension.

If the word "resource" is used in the Web to mean all things that URI 
can denote.  It is how it is used.  Who gives a damn if the word 
"resource" is used in some senses in some other context.  We are using 
the word "resource" in the context of the Web.  We might as well name it 
with "xyz", what kind of difference does it make in terms of the usage?

It is the same with the word "representation".  AWWW has never bothered 
to define it.  But  it should.  We know, in fact very clearly, that in 
the Web a "representation" is carried by a byte-stream.   We know, also 
as a matter of fact, that a "representation" has a structure -- think 
the HTTP message.  We also know, in fact very pragmatically, that a 
"representation" carries a "document", again a structure that is parsed 
from a "representation" and displayed by a browser or handled by some 
other agents.  This is what can be clearly and objectively defined.  To 
categorize it on the "resource" side will inevitably forces one personal 
metaphysical viewpoint onto others.  It is dangerous to do the latter 
because then the Web issue is no longer an engineer issue but a 
political and a religious one.  Don't do that.

>> GET, POST, DELETE neither
>> GET/POST/DELETE a URI nor a Resource.  It GET/POST/DELETE a representation.
> Yet *another* interpretation of the verbs. Are people afraid enough yet?
It is the only interpretation that makes pragmatic sense.  It also fits 
the reality and is also productive.  As  I  said before, there is a 
context  -- the URI owner -- for all web communications.  And that 
context stops any kind of useless argument. 

>> Resource/things are not web-specific.  The Web is designed to help us
>> (humans) organize things.  But the Web should post no constrains on how each
>> of us should organize our things.
> I don't know what you are talking about. First, we're not talking
> about constraining the web, we're talking about ways of communicating.
> Second it is the nature of protocols to constrain things so that it's
> possible to have coordination. That's why there's only a handful of
> verbs and response codes. If any server could respond in any which way
> to any request then we wouldn't be able to build browsers.
Yes, "representation" is the *web* ways of communication. It is our 
tools and try to focus on define how to organize that but not organizing 
resource.  That latter is our purpose.   
>> Aligning "document" or "information resource" with resource, i.e., lies in the heart of all these troubles. Try
>> the other way, align document with representation, all things will start to fall in places.
> There's nothing to align to. Representation, in the web spec, is a
> term effectively defined as "200 responder". It is whatever a server
> chooses to return. And we're having a little problem pinning down
> "Document", as well. So I don't see how to move forward with your
> suggestion.
See above.  In the worse case, i.e., if there is nothing to align to, 
then just forget the word -- "document" or "information resource".  Will 
the web hurt by that? I haven't seen any -- not even a valid 
hypothetical example.

Received on Tuesday, 4 August 2009 15:48:07 UTC

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