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RE: [xml-dev] hypermedia affordances

Roger Costello reminded me of a discussion from the Web Architecture
list, 2004:


The definition is for a web resource.  The other word senses aren't 
applicable.  That is why it is a weak theory.  It isn't intended to 
be a comprehensive ontology for the colloquialism.  That is also 
why 'on the web' has to be called 'colloquial' instead of a 
formal term.   A hard and stubborn part of writing the 
web arch doc and in fact, any specification or standard is 
to "conserve nouns" as Goldfarb said, to reduce misinterpretation. 
It is similar to formal ontology work in that respect.  Ontologies 
are theories.  Ontological commitment as defined by Gruber means 
committing to a theory or word sense, typically, with a means to 
verify the commitment through a testable property.  What has 
been pointed out several times by several individuals is that 
the term 'web resource' is testable.  So, this is a good term 
for the formal set of web architecture terms.

Try to conceive of a test for 'information space'.

And we here are committed or will be soon enough.

In the sense where norm is paired with affordance, there is a coherent
understanding.   Affordances can be increased or decreased by adjusting
norms.  Two examples are driver licenses and marriage licenses as being
accepted among or between states given federal and state norms.  Because
these are different power domains, the norms do vary and so do the
affordances... so far.

Here we have the example of "link" and/or "reference".   

With Hytime arch forms we attempted to take the terminology and give it
a meaning apart from the narrower domain of HTML which as SGML domain
specialists was "normal" because we wanted hypermedia technology that
could be applied to any application vocabulary.  Instead we settled for
downtranslation and namespaces and as predicted, the special case domain
(ie., HTML) became increasingly "special" and now as HTML5 appears ready
to cast off all other applications to become "the one true Ark"  On The
Web.  I think that makes it an easier target for sinking but....

No one translates X3D to HTML for obvious reasons so there is a good
case for separating linking as an affordance from HTML <A.


-----Original Message-----
From: John Cowan [mailto:cowan@ccil.org] On Behalf Of John Cowan
Sent: Friday, July 06, 2012 12:08 PM
To: Mike Sokolov
Cc: Len Bullard; David Lee; Michael Kay; xml-dev@lists.xml.org
Subject: Re: [xml-dev] hypermedia affordances

Mike Sokolov scripsit:

> personally I'm happy to be a king's follower in this instance.  I
> don't mind coinage of new terms as needed, but to avoid jargon it's
> preferable to repurpose an old one that's relevant.  How about
> "links" or "references"?  

We are so used to them that we don't easily see that "links" and
"references" are just as much jargon as "affordances".  Our field has
repurposing terms from its beginnings, perhaps starting with "computer",
which used to mean someone whose job it was to compute things, with
or without an instrument.  Yanks and Brits collided in the early days
over "memory": the latter preferred the less misleading term "store",
but it didn't last.  I laughed almost twenty years ago when I got a
letter from the principal of my daughter's school talking about the
newfangled Internet: he mentioned that he knew some of us parents were
"expert browsers".  A natural mistake, really: isn't a browser an animal
that eats shoots and leaves (no commas)?

But not everyone thinks our terminological buccaneering a Good Thing.
Primo Levi in his essay collection _Other People's Trades_ talks about
his mystification in trying to decipher the manuals that came with his
shiny new Macintosh:

    The computer was delivered to me accompanied by a profusion of
    manuals. I tried to study them before touching the keys, and I felt
    lost. It seemed to me that although they were apparently written in
    Italian, there were in an unknown language; indeed in a mocking and
    misleading language in which well-known words like "open," "close,"
    and "quit" are used in unusual ways.  [...] How much better it would
    have been to invent a decisively new terminology for these new

And he also speaks of the un-helpfulness of the glossaries in those
same manuals, which proceed "in an opposite direction to that of common
dictionaries; these [glossaries] define familiar terms by having
to abstruse terms, and the effect is devastating."

In short, the question of "new terms or old?" is a matter of taste and
common practice in a field, and "affordance" belongs to a field related
to ours but not the same.

Yes, chili in the eye is bad, but so is your    John Cowan
ear.  However, I would suggest you wash your    cowan@ccil.org
hands thoroughly before going to the toilet.

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