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Re: [ontolog-forum] CL, CG, IKL and the relationship between symbols in

To: "John Black" <JohnBlack@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Cc: "[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Pat Hayes <phayes@xxxxxxx>
Date: Sun, 6 Jan 2008 17:40:26 -0800
Message-id: <p06230901c3a72d45609e@[]>
At 6:57 PM -0500 1/6/08, John Black wrote:
>Very well then, I believe I am beginning to understand what the name 
>of this song is called, but there are still a few loose ends I'd 
>like to tie up.
>on Sun. Jan. 6, 2008 at 1:24 PM, Pat Hayes wrote:
>>  >I've read some of the references...I'm happy to concede that 
>>'context' >may be better replaced by several more specific terms, 
>>or at least that >we always make clear that there are many *kinds* 
>>of context. And I'll >keep reading...
>>>But I'd like to return to one part of this discussion with an 
>>>example 'from the field' rather than my own manufacture. I'd like 
>>>to get opinions about this example as it still troubles me.
>>>on Sat. Dec. 29, 2007 at 1:04 PM, Pat Hayes wrote:
>>>><huge snip>
>>>PH>>>The key point is, what would count as a
>>>>>>'context' for a context-dependent URI?
>>>In the following example[1], the differing 'contexts' are the 
>>>different web-pages upon which occurrences of a URI appear.
>>>PH>>> Consider
>>>>>>this scenario. You, sitting at your computer, use a URi to browse an
>>>>>>interesting website, and you send me an email telling me about it and
>>>>>>citing the URI. I then, sitting at my computer, two days later on the
>>>>>>other side of the planet, type that URI into my browser. We expect that
>>>>>>we will see the same website: but what do our two contexts have in
>>>>>>common? It might be almost nothing: the times, places, browsers,
>>>>>>countries, users, OSs, maybe even cultural and linguistic settings, can
>>>>>>be completely different. It is inherent to the Web that the contexts of
>>>>>>publication and of use of a URI can be arbitrarily different and far
>>>>>>apart on every dimension, yet the URI is supposed to retain its meaning.
>>>This scenario is not applicable here. We need the following 
>>>scenario. You, sitting at your computer, use URI-A to browse to an 
>>>interesting web-page upon which you see a small graphic, retrieved 
>>>by an occurrence of URI-CD, which refers to an assertion that the 
>>>web-page you are viewing is written in valid XHTML 1.0.
>>>This is URI-CD:  http://www.w3.org/Icons/valid-xhtml10
>>>What this URI is intended to denote is this assertion (from the 
>>>W3C help page: http://validator.w3.org/docs/help.html) "To show 
>>>readers that one has taken some care to create an interoperable 
>>>Web page, a "W3C valid" badge may be displayed (here, the "valid 
>>>XHTML 1.0" badge) on any page that validates."
>>OK, very nice example. But lets be very clear about what exactly is 
>>denoting what. The badge is a graphic, which is emitted by (and 
>>hence webarch:represents) a Web object (belonging to the W3C) which 
>>itself is denoted by the URI-CD (because, following the 
>>httpRange-14 decision, no 303-redirection was done when you GET 
>>that URI). The badge is not itself a URI. Moreover, while it is 
>>being the object of the URI or URTIs which denote it, it isnt (yet) 
>>being used symbolically: it is simply an information object, a PNG 
>>file. But when used *as a badge*, ie as part of a visible Web page, 
>>then (let us agree) it does become a symbol, one which, as you 
>>correctly point out, is used indexically, since its occurrence on a 
>>Web page makes an assertion about that very page. But it still 
>>isn't a URI; so all that follows is that Web pages may contain 
>>indexical (human-readable) content, which is of course true. A web 
>>page containing an article which says "this article" contains 
>>indexical content also. Human languages and communication systems 
>>are rife with indexicality.
>I'm curious, first, about how you have handled *what it is* that the 
>URI-CD denotes.    (01)

I followed the http-range-14 ruling, and assumed (perhaps naively :-) 
that the W3C are following their own rules. That URI doesn't have a 
hash in it, so the rule is: if, when you perform a GET on the URI, 
something returns a result with a 200-level http code (in particular, 
without a 303-redirect), then the URI denotes the 'something' that 
sent that response. Typically this is a webpage or a website or the 
like: the generic term used by the TAG has varied, but I think it is 
currently "information resource", which I hate, so I called it a Web 
object. (Another nice term Ive seen is an 'http endpoint'.)    (02)

>You say that URI-CD denotes the "web object" that emits and is 
>represented by the "badge".    (03)

Right. Though that is the webarch sense of 'represent', which is 
rather idiosyncratic.    (04)

>But we know more about it than that.    (05)

Actually we don't. About all we know is that it emits a certain kind 
of image file as an http response.    (06)

>Why call it a "web object", or an "information object", or a "PNG 
>file", or a "badge" when we know precisely what kind of "web object" 
>it is? We know that the "badge" has "W3C XHTML 1.0 check" on it.    (07)

So? What has that got to do with what its URI denotes? And in fact, 
what it actually has on it is an IMAGE of those characters, not in 
any machine-readable form.    (08)

>  We know why those symbols represent the "web object".    (09)

They don't. The URI denotes the web object. The image 
'webarch:represents' the web object, but that is a very unusual and 
special sense of 'represent': it is the sense in which the thing on 
your screen 'represents' the image file stored on the W3C home 
computer. This sense of 'represent' has almost nothing at all to do 
with denotation or representation in the KR sense. It would have been 
better to call it 'depicts' or some such, IMO, but the terminology is 
now stuck.    (010)

>What we know, in fact, is that URI-CD denotes a "web object" that 
>can be represented by that "badge"    (011)

In the webarch sense, yes    (012)

>because it can be symbolized by the symbols on that "badge".    (013)

Absolutely not. The webarch:represents relation between the badge you 
get on your page when you hit URI-CD, and the web object, denoted by 
that URI, that sent it to you, has *nothing* to do with any symbols 
on the badge. If the URI had retrieved a looping flash movie of 
Mickey Mouse, or a blank white page, it would still have been a 
webarch:representation of the web object that you GETted it from.    (014)

>  And we know who created it, why they created it, and what they 
>intended it to be used for.    (015)

None of which matters to any of the current discussion. These are all 
properties of the object, if they are anything.    (016)

>All of this is surely what the "web object" *is*, and is therefore 
>what URI-CD denotes. Right?    (017)

Wrong. It is what it is, and it has many properties. Denoting it does 
not denote its properties.    (018)

>So why not call a spade a spade and say that URI-CD denotes an assertion    (019)

Even if I conceded everything up to now, that would still not mean 
that URI denoted an assertion. That is a very peculiar kind of thing 
to denote.    (020)

>that the page its emissions are shown on has valid XHTML? To say 
>that the "web object" is JUST a "web object" or "information 
>resource", while ignoring the symbolic content it contains, leaves 
>out the essential characteristics of what is denoted by that URI. 
>After all, a "web object" that is Moby Dick is not the same as one 
>that is Alice in Wonderland - exactly because of the different 
>symbolic human content they contain.    (021)

You are using 'symbolic' too loosely here. Web pages need not even 
contain any symbols, for one thing: the "Badge" does not. But of 
course Im not saying that all web objects are the same object.    (022)

>Second, you say that the badge does "become a symbol", with 
>indexicality, only when it appears on a visible web page. Why is 
>this so?    (023)

Well, I'm conceding that it is being used there with some symbolic 
intention. The composer of the page intends it to mean something.    (024)

>  When does this symbolic content emerge out of an "information 
>resource" if it was not already there to begin with?    (025)

I guess a philosophical answer would be along the lines that it 
becomes a symbol when it is used symbolically to express a meaning. 
That happens on your webpage when you put that badge there with that 
intention. But if you simply download it to admire the W3C graphic 
design, its merely an image, seems to me. One of my Xmas gifts was a 
box of fridge magnets with words on them, for writing fridge haikus. 
But there aren't any haikus until I actually make one and put it on 
the fridge.    (026)

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