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   RE: [xml-dev] web services stack [data + context = information]

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> Surely data-context = a bunch of bits in relationship to one another,
> but you don't know what the relationship is.
> Lack of context doesn't make something random, it just makes it out of
> context. Randomness is something very different, isn't it?

Okay: abuse of term.  Better to call it meaningless bits.  

> [Data + context = information] actually seems a useful thought model

In order to construct data, there had to have been a context at one time.
That's a given. 

Even with hieroglyphics, there's usually enough context to know that the
pictures mean a thousand words. Otherwise, it would just be iconography.

> If context really is binary then what does that say to the 
> Semantic Web?

You're taking what I said too literally.  Bits, squiggles, pictures, etc. --
all are information.

> Isn't that one of the reasons behind human readability - 
> because we, not
> machines, are the best fuzzy engines and context builders?

Yes. XML (well written XML) helps with interpretation.  That interpretation
is framed in a context, however.  A partial context means that any
interpretation made is uncertain.  Usability of data is probably equal to
the inverse squared of its certainty (I'm just guessing; I wonder if anyone
has tried to quantify the usefulness of uncertain assumptions?  Bayes comes
to mind.). 

Most data-driven computer programming requires certainty of understanding;
lack of same results frequently in misfeatures, or missed features.  Outside
that black-and-white binary domain, mileage will vary.  The Enquirer,
conspiracy theorists, and Creationists all thrive on uncertain assumptions
about data.

> You say "Can data even exist without context? I don't think 
> it's data if
> there's no context to which it can be applied"
> That looks suspiciously like reduction ab abdsurdam

And I didn't even know I knew Latin!

> Of course, if there is "no context to which it *can* be 
> applied" then it
> is not data. But that is not what owen suggested. 
> There IS a context to which it can be applied, we just don't 
> necessarily
> know what it is. That is why it is data, rather than "random bits" or
> useless patterns. 

You either have the context (or part thereof) or you don't.  If you don't
have the context, but just the data, you have undecipherable junk.  That's
all I'm saying.  If you acquire the context later, then the junk may become
valuable.  Nothing of what you said (other than my abuse of the term
'random') is really a disagreement.  Lack of access to context is
functionally the same as lack of context.

> As you say, using XML for MOP-ish descriptions seems like a good idea.



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