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   Re: [xml-dev] Utilizing the Web's Whole Information Space, i.e.,Mechanis

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A few brief comments:

Costello, Roger L. wrote:
> Hi Folks,
> My objective is:
>     - to understand the Web as a "space" of information
>     - to learn to take effective advantage of the /whole/ space of 
> information
> In other words, to effectively utilize the Web I must be able to exploit 
> all the information, not just information from, say, web services.
> I am seeking your thoughts on this topic.
> The above is pretty abstract, so let me make it more concrete.
> Let me start by giving my definition of the Web, and then a concrete 
> statement of my objective:
> *Definition:* The Web is a network of /information/, that can be 
> /traversed/ and /assembled/ in /user-specified ways/.

I'd suggest adding "created" or "added to" to what can be done, and 
replacing "assembled" by "transformed" (as being more general).

> *Problem:* If the Web is all about creating and exploiting networks of 
> information, then it makes sense to understand the Web's fundamental 
> mechanisms/patterns of information formation and usage.  So, the problem 
> is to identify the mechanisms/patterns of information usage and 
> formation on the Web today.

Rather than talking of "the Web's" patterns of formation and usage, it 
seems to me this would be better characterized as *user's* patterns, 
i.e., patterns of usage users impose on the Web (via software), rather 
than talking as if the Web defines this stuff by itself (unless you're 
thinking of including the users in "the Web", which in one sense isn't 
necessarily a bad idea).

> Here is the list that I have compiled thus far:
> 1. RSS/Atom: information is syndicated.  That is, consumers pull the 
> information.  The information contains links which enable the consumer 
> to traverse to information that is of interest or value.

 From an implementation point of view consumers may pull the 
information.  But if a user sets up an RSS client to ping a source at 
regular intervals, from the user's point of view this looks a lot like a 
push (the user doesn't have to explicitly do anything, the information 
just arrives).  So you might want to consider the possibility of 
different points of view (or architectural levels) in your analysis.

> 2. Wiki: information is collaboratively grown.  The information is 
> massively connected to other information, thus reflecting the many ways 
> that knowledge intertwines.
> 3. Traditional Web Sites and Web Services: information is exposed (made 
> available).  If a consumer wants it, he must go and get it.  Information 
> is exchanged.  The information is linked to other related information.

I think it would clarify things if you didn't use passive voice, like 
"information is exposed".  Rather, *people publish information* (make it 
available on the Web).  *Other people* access that information.

> These mechanisms/patterns all contribute to the Web's information 
> space.  Effective use of the Web requires me to understand and utilize 
> the whole information space, i.e., all of these mechanisms/patterns.
> What other fundamental mechanisms/patterns are there on the Web today, 
> that contribute to the whole information space?  /Roger

Well, you've left out search engines (or are they included in "web 
services"?).  There are also other parts of the Internet that contribute 
to the Web.  For example, if you search on a given topic, you will 
sometimes find email messages (from Web archives) in the responses 
(people also link to relevant email messages from Web pages).  IRC logs 
are found as well.  Etc.

Also, have you read the W3C's "Architecture of the World Wide Web"
<http://www.w3.org/TR/2004/REC-webarch-20041215/> and Tim Berners-Lee's 
Design Issues series <http://www.w3.org/DesignIssues/> in thinking about 
these things?



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