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   Re: Two Perspectives (was Re: [xml-dev] URIs are simply names R)

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Outstanding post, Steve. Worthy of framing ;-)

Your two perspectives very well illustrate the divergence
between the web and semantic web that I've sensed for some
time (though not as clearly as your post presents them).

I think that one of the key ways in which the W3C can
support perspective 2 is to accept that the present, low
resolution and non-formal "contemporary view" of URI
classification does not meet the needs of perspective 2
and consider very hard how balance can be achieved in that
crucial area.

The rest, I think, will follow from that.



On 2002-02-15 21:12, "ext Steven R. Newcomb" <srn@coolheads.com> wrote:

> "Jonathan Borden" <jborden@attbi.com> writes:
>> It would be helpful to read the relevent documents
>> because there is really no point in arguing what is
>> "logical" when we are defining our basic terms in a
>> different fashion.
> It all depends on which documents you regard as
> relevant.  In SGML, for example, an "entity" is a very
> different thing.  And so is a "resource".
> It is very useful and revealing to see the whole
> history of our field as a conflict between two
> perspectives:
> (1) The perspective of those who provide bandwidth
>     and processing, and
> (2) the perspective of those who provide and maintain
>     information.
> From Perspective 2, which is the perspective on which
> SGML is based, it is nonsensical to define what
> information is (or to think of information in terms of)
> what a process produces, or in terms of a
> communications protocol.  For Perspective 2,
> information just sits somewhere, occupying real space.
> Its "location" can be addressed in countless ways, in
> terms of other information -- other information that
> also "just sits there".  For Perspective 2, information
> really, really exists, it has real value (in that
> access to it can improve human productivity), its
> maintenance absorbs real human effort, and it does
> absolutely nothing.
> From Perspective 1, which is the perspective on which
> the Web and all other communications and computing
> systems are based, it is nonsensical to think of
> information in any terms than other "information in
> motion", either being copied from one place to another,
> or being transformed in various ways.  Perspective 1
> has little reverence for the value of the information
> itself, or for the effort involved in maintaining it.
> Perspective 1 frequently (and, to my way of thinking,
> ignorantly and self-defeatingly) tramples on,
> diminishes, and destroys the value of information in
> many ways.  But the Perspective 1 guys have nearly all
> of the money and virtually all of the power.  This is
> because Perspective 1 is in a much stronger position to
> set up the toll booths and collect tolls.
> Perspective 1 is so unconcerned with the value of
> information that it doesn't bother to distinguish
> between the Eiffel Tower and addressable information
> that serves as a surrogate for the Eiffel Tower;
> they're both just a "resource".  Perspective 1 is so
> blithely unconcerned with the problem of information
> management that there doesn't even have to be anything
> at the addresses that are used to uniquely identify
> individual XML Namespaces.
> The predominance of Perspective 1 is the reason why the
> Web is such an appallingly bad place to *manage*
> information, even while it's a great place to *publish*
> it.
> Of course, the two perspectives need each other
> desperately.  It has been my hope that the XML
> phenomenon would be a bridge-builder between them.  The
> jury's still out on that.  For the last few years,
> things haven't been looking very promising.
> Things began badly for Perspective 2, when the
> Perspective 1 people overlooked the primary benefit of
> SGML, and decided to make it unnecessary to provide a
> model for XML information.  Except for the enablement
> of some tricky hacks that were made possible by this
> end-run -- hacks whose goals could have been
> accomplished by other, less destructive means -- this
> was a fruitless thing to have done.  It has had the
> unfortunate side-effect of keeping millions of people
> from discovering the vital importance of Perspective 2.
> XML Namespaces was another major blow to Perspective 2:
> names were seen as a solution to a communications
> problem, rather than as handles for specific semantics.
> (The two sides have consistently talked right past each
> other on XML Namespaces; the spectacle would be comical
> if it weren't so incredibly expensive for everyone.)
> I see the confusing welter of confused, non-modular XML
> specifications as a hopeful sign.  The Babel effect is
> slowing the pendulum down, and it may soon reverse its
> course, and move toward Perspective 2.  I hope it does.
> If enhancing human productivity is truly the shared
> goal, balance must someday prevail.  At the moment,
> most people are on one side or the other, but few
> realize that there is even a dialectic tension here,
> much less what the lack of balance between the two
> perspectives is costing everyone on this planet.  When
> we all appreciate the value of the other side's
> perspective, things will improve a lot.
> It looks to me as though the W3C, having sinned
> grievously against Perspective 2, is now starting to
> move toward it.  I nourish the hope that this is the
> real meaning of the "Semantic Web" initiative.  If so,
> it's going to be a tough and divisive path for the W3C
> to follow, and I wish them well.  I find many of their
> efforts to describe the goals of the Semantic Web as
> Delphic as others do.  It would be a lot clearer if
> they could be seen to embrace Perspective 2, but it may
> not be possible to do that, in view of the overwhelming
> quantity of their Perspective 1 baggage.
> OASIS has long been much more sensitive to Perspective
> 2 than the W3C has.  I applaud them for their longtime
> efforts to achieve a better balance.
> But I'm willing to support anybody who appreciates the
> importance and necessity of supporting Perspective 2.
> Perspective 2 is the underdog, and *balance* is what is
> needed.
> I'm an ISO guy, myself.  ISO, the source of SGML, is a
> Perspective 2 stronghold.  It's a source of ideas that
> Perspective 1 people have been extremely unwilling to
> support, like HyTime, architectural forms, and groves,
> and things that tend to make Perspective 1 people
> pretty nervous, like Topic Maps.
> What will .NET turn out to be?  I'm no insider, but I'm
> willing to bet that Microsoft is preparing to be where
> the pendulum is going to be -- which is a lot closer to
> Perspective 2 than it is now.
> -- Steve
> Steven R. Newcomb, Consultant
> srn@coolheads.com
> voice: +1 972 359 8160
> fax:   +1 972 359 0270
> 1527 Northaven Drive
> Allen, Texas 75002-1648 USA

Patrick Stickler              Phone: +358 50 483 9453
Senior Research Scientist     Fax:   +358 7180 35409
Nokia Research Center         Email: patrick.stickler@nokia.com


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