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Re: Is Resource/Representation a fruitful abstraction?

abstraction in information systems
Miles Sabin wrote:
>>What _I_ would claim is that when you build an information system
>>(like the Web) you must choose a set of principles that will hold
>>common for all objects in that system. COM has such a set of
>>principles. Java has such a set. The TAG's job is to define those
>>principles for the Web. If you deny them the right to exclude you
>>deny them the ability to succeed.
> I think this is your problem. The web isn't *an* information system. 

That may be the direction it is headed, but that's not what it was 
intended to be.

> It's many information systems, and much else besides, loosely knitted 
> together by a mixture of practices, conventions, protocols and 
> software. 

If the Web is no one thing, then why do we even need a term for it? Why 
bother talking about it? Why have a technical advisory board or a 
consortium for that matter? How can Tim Berners-Lee be the inventor of 
it if there is no it there at all? Does the TAG totally misunderstand 
what they are doing: "The World Wide Web (or, Web) is a networked 
information system consisting of agents (programs acting on behalf of 
another person, entity, or process) that exchange information."

It would be very politically convenient to sweep away any normative 
definition of the Web so that technical concerns would not get in the 
way of business issues and industry momentum but the thing you get out 
on the other side will not be as coherent as the Web. Next you'll tell 
me that there is no such thing as society. Only individuals. ;)

> ... The assertion that there's a *single* design methodology or 
> organizing principle as specific as REST which is adequate for all of 
> these is precisely the spurning of motherhood and apple pie you claim 
> to be disclaiming.

Not at all. The Web was specifically designed to co-exist with other 
information systems. It does not have to subsume every design 
methodology in order to cooperate with them. The Web is not the basis of 
Telnet or Jabber or Napster. So what? What virtue is there in watering 
down the definition of "Web" until it subsumes everything so we can all 
feel good that nothing has been excluded...too bad we have no 

  Paul Prescod


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