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   Re: [xml-dev] Is Resource/Representation a fruitful abstraction? (was Re

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Mike Champion wrote:

> On Sat, 25 Jan 2003 20:20:56 -0500, Mike Champion <mc@xegesis.org> wrote:
> > the TAG is trying to squeeze WAY to much juice from this rather dry
> > fruit. If they are trying to understand the actual principles of the Web
> > by focusing on URIs, resources, and representations, I'm extremely
> > skeptical that they will produce anything particularly useful to guide
> > Webmasters, Semantic Web researchers, Web services theorists or
> > practicioners, etc.
> I read Tim Bray's http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-
> tag/2003Jan/0369.html shortly after writing this.  That is pretty thought
> provoking, and I recommend it.  Still, I think that neither "a URL simply
> locates a specific Web page" or "a URI identifies an abstract Resource for
> which HTTP will return an appropriate representation based on content
> headers"  really nails the question of what URIs are and/or could be
> for.  Clearly a query encoded in a URI (either to a specific application
> such as Antarcti.ca or a database) could result in something ephemeral.
> Clearly one *can* use the discipline of "Resource Oriented Programming" (I
> believe the phrase is Paul Prescod's) to do interesting things, as Tim has
> done.  My skepticism kicks in when one asserts that this is *the*
> architecture of the Web rather than *an* architecture within which one can
> do useful things with the Web.

Certainly one can come up with whatever design for the 'web' that one
desires. I think that in the context of the TAG we ought assume a 'default
namespace' :-)) for the discussions i.e.

w3c:Web -- on the other hand one might argue that the w3c does have some
sort of trademark on the term 'Web' (capitalized)

>Furthermore, the extent to which Resource
> Oriented Programming and/or REST is a best practice for the Web seems to
> an open empirical question; I'd like to see it addressed empirically, i.e.
> do RESTfully correct sites tend to be more "successful" in some
> way than are those that don't appear to use its principles?

Roy Fielding has strong opinions on this, and I'd say that the success of
Apache lends some credence to his _assertions_.

>...Beyond that, I don't think we have much solid theory or
> practical experience for anything other than human-readable content.
> There's lots of work going on at the W3C and elsewhere to define alternate
> ways of nailing down the contract implied by a URI more explicitly --
> (many XML DBMS systems allow XPath queries encoded in a URI), XForms,
> XQuery, WSDL, and the various RDF-based specs. That's great, these are
> extremely useful ... but do all these things really fit within some
> abstraction of what a URI really is?  Or, more importantly, do any of the
> abstractions that could cover all these bases really provide powerful
> theoretical concepts?

Have you read http://www.w3.org/TR/rdf-mt/ at any length? Is this formalism
useful? I'd say that it is at least to a set of interoperable tools, and the
OWL semantics is also for a larger set of interoperable tools.

Our world is full of little tautologies such as "A
> URI identifies a Resource in a Uniform way" and "Web services are those
> things described by the Web Services Description Language."  Attempts to
> come up with non-tautological definitions of 'Resource' and 'Web service'
> are notoriously prone to go down ratholes on the TAG and WSA mailing

That's exactly the problem. It is not terribly useful (IMHO) to look for
_empiric_ data to support _definitions_. Empiric data is useful to see to
what extent the 'real world' is using such definitions as they are defined.
But let's understand that these terms are _definitional_ and perhaps we can
understand that this thream is sort of like trying to understand the Enron
or WorldCom scandals by argueing over whether '1+2 = 3'. We use _empiricism_
to find out that there is math going on that does not conform to the
expected standards of math (vis a vie accounting) NOT to argue over the
basic characteristics of math -- well the Enron and WorldCom folks are
exactly trying to argue that - aren't they?



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