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   Re: [xml-dev] Re: Why REST was Re: [xml-dev] URIs are simply names

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On Sat, 2002-02-16 at 20:46, Jonathan Borden wrote:
> The core issue is whether we are able to describe anything but "documents"
> on the Web. One might take the position that nothing but documents exists on
> the Web. But it is the literal incantation of a document which is defined as
> the _entity_ (the series of bits)

I don't think the incantation of bits is sufficient cause to believe
that an abstraction called a resource lurks behind the bits.  Nor do I
find that abstraction particularly helpful when it interferes (as it
regularly does) with expectations about said bits.

> As I see it, every document is _about_ something. It is that something which
> is the _resource_.

So resources are kind of like Hegel's Spirit?  Maybe Frank Willison was
dangerously right at the end of:

Or is that more like Plato's Forms?  I'd really like something more
tangible than merely "a resource is the object of an identifier," which
is as far as URI folks ever seem to get.  Perhaps uselessness is

> Needless layers of abstraction are just a waste of time. On the other hand
> it is essential to distinguish between a description of something and the
> thing that is described. For example: XML Namespaces. The RDDL document
> isn't the namespace, it describes the namespace. Or your homepage, it may
> describe you  --if you say so-- but it isn't you --no matter what you say--.

I don't claim my homepage is myself.  I do, however, claim that
http://simonstl.com/articles/index.html has meaning well beyond
identification, and the reason that odd string of characters works has
infinitely more to do with its role as a locator than as an identifier.

The reason RDDL works is that people and machines understand URLs, and
can get to the bits.  The URI part is, as I said before, hocus-pocus.
I'll take incantations of bits over incantations abstractly identifying
abstract resources.

The other problem, of course, is that isn't clear how these abstractions
add up.  How do I describe http://simonstl.com/ns/fragments/ when it's
both a document and a namespace?  I've chosen to take advantage of the
URL-nature of the namespace to put a RDDL document there, but that was
just me being nice, and now I want to identify the page separately from
the namespace in some kind of processing.  # doesn't seem to answer

Identification is a tough problem, and useful in some but not all
contexts.  I find it hard to believe that anyone but architects wants to
see architecture built on identification rather than something slightly
more tangible - say, location, even an abstract location in a computer. 
That's served the Web quite well for a decade.

Simon St.Laurent
Ring around the content, a pocket full of brackets
Errors, errors, all fall down!


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