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Problems with definition of resource

From: Aaron Swartz <aswartz@swartzfam.com>
Date: Fri, 11 May 2001 16:55:16 -0500
To: <www-xml-linking-comments@w3.org>
Message-ID: <B721C9F3.B450%aswartz@swartzfam.com>
http://www.w3.org/TR/2000/PR-xlink-20001220/ states:

> The notion of resources is universal to the World Wide Web. [Definition: As
> discussed in [IETF RFC 2396], a resource is any addressable unit of
> information or service.] Examples include files, images, documents, programs,
> and query results.

This definition is incorrect and will likely help spread misconceptions
about URIs and resources. Such a mistake should not be in a W3C

A resource is more than a unit of information or a service. The URI spec
clearly states:

<q cite="http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc2396.txt">
         A resource can be anything that has identity.  Familiar
         examples include an electronic document, an image, a service
         (e.g., "today's weather report for Los Angeles"), and a
         collection of other resources.  Not all resources are network
         "retrievable"; e.g., human beings, corporations, and bound
         books in a library can also be considered resources.

         The resource is the conceptual mapping to an entity or set of
         entities, not necessarily the entity which corresponds to that
         mapping at any particular instance in time.  Thus, a resource
         can remain constant even when its content---the entities to
         which it currently corresponds---changes over time, provided
         that the conceptual mapping is not changed in the process.

While you may believe that human beings and corporations are information,
that's territory best left alone.

> The means used for addressing a resource is a URI (Uniform
> Resource Identifier) reference (described more in 5.4 Locator Attribute
> (href)). It is possible to address a portion of a resource. For example, if
> the whole resource is an XML document, a useful portion of that resource might
> be a particular element inside the document. Following a link to it might
> result, for example, in highlighting that element or scrolling to that point
> in the document.

Furthermore, whether a fragment identifier identifies a portion of a
resource or not is unclear. What we do know is that it identifies a portion
of a network document. Clarifying this statement would be good too.

Thanks for your consideration of these important issues,

[ Aaron Swartz | me@aaronsw.com | http://www.aaronsw.com ]
Received on Friday, 11 May 2001 17:55:19 UTC

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