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Re: A Dirk and Ndia story about RDF and URIs and HTTPrange14

From: Jonathan A Rees <rees@mumble.net>
Date: Thu, 19 Apr 2012 11:41:18 -0400
Message-ID: <CAGnGFMJMhHp_RTExxYwWTwiwZeBGx3wb=jiCk=Ty00bGOcwfpw@mail.gmail.com>
To: Larry Masinter <masinter@adobe.com>
Cc: "www-tag@w3.org" <www-tag@w3.org>
Supposing one agreed with your cut 100% (I'm at about 90%, would
disagree with your claims about RDF). How would one then solve the
problem that discussion of the issue is taking too much TAG attention
(what you express with "sigh")? Doing nothing is obviously not solving
that problem. For me what you say does not point to a clear direction

There is clearly a technical interoperability problem that a certain
community wants solved somehow. The only responsible way to reduce TAG
time spent on this problem is to either solve the problem (out of
scope for the TAG by your analysis, I think) or move work on the
problem to another forum. What kind of statement should the TAG make
to retract its apparent 2005 claim on this problem and cause the work
to move elsewhere? I would probably accept advice as an amendment to
one of the two proposals along these lines that I've already


On Mon, Apr 2, 2012 at 1:42 AM, Larry Masinter <masinter@adobe.com> wrote:
> Since the TAG has hours scheduled to talk about httpRange-14 (sigh) ...
> Here's my cut:
> Following the work I was developing earlier, I'm want to be careful to separate out:
> *  language  (protocol, protocol element)
> * descriptions of languages (dictionaries, specifications)
> * implementations (people, software, instances of HTML)
> And to talk about the issue without making unnecessary (and illogical) assumptions, avoiding
> * owner (URIs don't have owners)
> * minting (URIs aren't minted)
> * binding to HTTP (communication using URIs doesn't depend on HTTP status codes)
> * "information resource" vs." non-information resource" (an interesting concept but no real division)
> Dirk and Nadia want to have a conversation.
> 1. In the old days before the web, they could communicate in a natural language, English or French or some other language, using words and syntax they both hopefully knew and understood. There were aids for their understanding, dictionaries (OED, American Heritage, Dictionnaire de l'Académie française) and other references (oh, for literary or historical references), but of course, communication was established because they had a common language, not because they were using the same dictionary.
> And of course they could use computers and networks, sending text through email and instant messaging, or Dirk could leave files for Nadia to FTP, download and retrieve.
> 2. The web introduced a great set of  enhancements: mark up, in a markup language.  This allowed them to  mark up text with styling, add images (which of course you could do in other ways), but also add links, using URLs. So now Dirk could not only say words in natural language,  but could annotate words and phrases and images with hyperlinks which would lead the reader directly to additional information.     A communication meant something whether or not the links worked (a failure that led to "404 not found" didn't suddenly change the meaning of a communication), but the links enhanced the communication, to the point where it was just as reasonable to say click >here< for additional information and put all the meaning in the link itself.
> XML added to the family of languages by providing a framework with namespaces, where a URI could indicate a namespace which then became the context for communication in that name space. MIME is also used to describe the nature of a communication to give the parties a better idea of what was intended.
> 3. Now, we wanted to enhance the nature of the communication even further by extending the languages of the web to include assertions, triples, which might be expressed as <A> <R> <B> such that perhaps some kinds of automated reasoning and processing could happen. That enhanceme (RDF) was in addition to hypertext markup, since Dirk and Nadia could exchange more formal expressions than those expressed in a natural language... it's a different framework, the links themselves were the communication.
> The use of A within <A> <R> <B> has similar properties to the link  in
>            Click <a href="A">here</a> for more information
> That is, if Dirk sends <A> <R> <B> to Nadia, the communication can be enhanced by having A, R, and B (if they are URIs) actually point to real information that Dirk or Nadia could use, if they're not already familiar with the terms.
> This language of triples has some nice properties, but alas, it doesn't provide sufficient context for some purposes. If the intent is to talk about copyright or ownership or authorship of a work, there are some situations where it's not clear which URI to use in a triple, where "R" is "has copyright" or "has title" or "was written by".
>  This is too bad, but we're just at the limit of what can be accomplished by this triple language.
> "httpRange-14" tried to invent some mechanism to disambiguate, but the problem of ambiguity is intrinsic in the nature of hyperlinks. We can't "fix" hyperlinks for the triple language without making them more confusing for their other purposes.
> Some notes:
> There are no "owners" of URIs here. Dirk and Nadia use URIs for communication. Maybe they're both also engaged in establishing some web content so that they can use URIs for that web content to enhance their conversation, one for the other, maybe there are many people engaged in the conversation, but that's pretty irrelevant when talking about their communication using those URIs.
> There is no process of "mint" here. Dirk and Nadia communicate, and they can "mint" words in natural language or in triples but doing so is outside of the scope of discussion of their communication.
> There is no notion of "resource" and "representation" here. It's an artificial division useful for talking about content negotiation and so on, but unnecessary for this story.
> There's no need to talk about two resources being the "same", or using "different" URIs for the "same" resource.
> There's no separation of "information resource" vs. "general resource".  Dirk and Nadia communicate using URIs. Sometimes they use URIs to talk about things which cannot be easily captured in a data representation, but ... "there is no spoon": the world is also all data.
Received on Thursday, 19 April 2012 15:41:52 UTC

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