[Top] [All Lists]

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

To: "Pat Hayes" <phayes@xxxxxxx>
Cc: "[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John Black" <JohnBlack@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 15 Jan 2008 06:40:38 -0500
Message-id: <03cc01c8576b$741d17c0$6601a8c0@KASHORI001>
I think I spy a disconnect between our approaches to this problem.    (01)

Specifically, you often seem to be taking the viewpoint of a browser client, 
or at least of some agent that can only know what HTTP, as a formal system, 
can communicate. Such a perspective is valuable when examining possible 
interpretations of the web Architecture document, or of the semantics of 
HTTP. But there is another perspective we can take, and I am speaking from 
that perspective. We can take the view of a web scientist or ontology 
engineer. We can look at this example with the full power of human reason. 
We can go behind the scenes and find out who maintains that resource at the 
W3C. We might even be able to find out who first designed and implemented it 
and why. So in what follows, I am often not disputing what you say, just 
looking at it from this other viewpoint.    (02)

on Sun. Jan. 06, 2008, at 8:40 PM, Pat Hayes wrote:    (03)

> 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
>>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
>>>>>>>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,
>>>>>>>be completely different. It is inherent to the Web that the contexts
>>>>>>>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
>>>>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
>>I'm curious, first, about how you have handled *what it is* that the
>>URI-CD denotes.
> 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'.)    (04)

Right, from the viewpoint of the authors of that document and others, it is 
an "information resource" aka "web object" aka "http endpoint". But that is 
a general term. From the viewpoint of an investigative web scientist, we can 
say more specifically what it is.    (05)

>>You say that URI-CD denotes the "web object" that emits and is represented
>>by the "badge".
> Right. Though that is the webarch sense of 'represent', which is rather
> idiosyncratic.    (06)

I would have said "utterly" rather than "rather" but will accept (for now) 
that it is just 'rather' idiosyncratic.    (07)

>>But we know more about it than that.
> Actually we don't. About all we know is that it emits a certain kind of
> image file as an http response.    (08)

Now here is where the difference in viewpoints is critical. Yes, you are 
right, from the point of view of a machine doing interpretations of the 
syntax of HTTP according to web architecture doc, that is all "we" (a 
machine interpretation) can know. But from the view point of the 
investigative web scientist, we can know more. And I think if we did talk to 
the original designer of the 'resource', he would tell us that, yes, the 
resource emitting the 'representations' was in fact a human symbolic 
artifact, indexical in essense and intended use. As web scientists then, we 
may further realize that the function of HTTP, in this case, was little more 
than a location transducer.    (09)

>>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.
> 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.    (010)

So, again, I agree, from the point of view of an automated HTTP interpreter, 
using only that which is machine-readable to us, we know nothing but that it 
denotes that IMAGE. But from our new vantage point, that of a web-scientist, 
we know more. From this viewpoint, the web is full of more particular 
things, we can see that the web is full of not just generic IMAGEs, or 
"information resources" but *specific* images, of Clinton, or Huckabee, or 
soldiers, or sports heros. Furthermore, we can see that many of the 
"information resources" on the web can be more particularly classified as 
home pages, or blog posts, or novels, etc, all of which are sub-classes of 
"information resources". And in fact, we can see that many "web objects" or 
"http endpoints" point to digital material that, in the full strength of 
human reason, appear to be kinds of *textual speech-acts*. We see "Offers to 
Sell", "reviews", legal "Complaints" and "Affidavits", and many others. No, 
you are right, they are not machine-readable, but they *are* real - very 
very real, and account for some of the great importance of the Web. My point 
is that, from the viewpoint of the web-scientist, we may examine and discuss 
these "textual speech-acts" as  what they really are, rather than limit 
ourselves to the view point of a machine.    (011)

>>  We know why those symbols represent the "web object".
> 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.    (012)

Again, that is correct from the point of view of a machine, trying to 
interpret messages received according to the webarch document. But as web 
scientists, we can, in this case, know more about the relationship between 
the symbols on the badge, which count as a localized image-text speech-act 
precisely because that is the way the designer of the resource designed them 
to function.    (013)

>>What we know, in fact, is that URI-CD denotes a "web object" that can be
>>represented by that "badge"
> In the webarch sense, yes
>>because it can be symbolized by the symbols on that "badge".
> 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)

Once again, correct (but *very* problematic IMO) from the viewpoint of a 
machine trying to webarch:interpret material received from the web object. 
And again, we, with our more advantagious viewpoint and superior knowledge 
of the case, can know that in this case, as in the vast majority of cases on 
the web, HTTP is acting as a mere location transducer, and that what is 
GETted, represents (here used in a more traditional way), in fact, pretty 
much copies, the resource in question.    (015)

>>  And we know who created it, why they created it, and what they intended
>> it to be used for.
> None of which matters to any of the current discussion. These are all
> properties of the object, if they are anything.
>>All of this is surely what the "web object" *is*, and is therefore what
>>URI-CD denotes. Right?
> Wrong. It is what it is, and it has many properties. Denoting it does not
> denote its properties.
>>So why not call a spade a spade and say that URI-CD denotes an assertion
> 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.    (016)

Why is it peculiar? A assertion is a real thing, a kind of speech-act, and 
they are all around us, with names to denote them. Consider The 'Pledge of 
Allegiance', which name denotes an indexical text asserting that the 
speaker, upon speaking it, assumes the state of 'allegiance' to the flag of 
the US. They are on buttons, bumper stickers, signs, etc. And the difference 
that makes a difference between two bumper-stickers, for example, is just 
the human, symbol content, the message, the assertion that it contains. 
Internet badges are the same, there are hundreds of them, distinguished by 
nothing else but the different assertions they make. What is peculiar about 
denoting such an assertion? I visited a web-site, 
http://www.cafepress.com/ibs_store/321477 , that sells stickers, it names 
each one, along with a price. For example, the first is named "Anarchy", 
which name denotes the assertion, "aNaRchy Never goEs ouT of style", price 
3.99. I won't agree that "Anarchy" denotes just the sticker, because there 
are hundreds of stickers, or just a sticker with an image of some text, 
again, hundreds of those. No, the name denotes the very stuff that 
individuates it from all the other stickers, that assertion. Also, the same 
assertion can be tranported on a lapel-pin, sign, greeting card, etc., so I 
would consider those to be items in relation to the assertion or to be 
properties, and *what it is* to be the assertion itself.    (017)

>>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.
> 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.    (018)

Of course not. And yet you seem to be saying that the target of a denotation 
can not be an assertion, even though that is the very thing that 
individuates the web object from other web objects in this case.    (019)

>>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?
> Well, I'm conceding that it is being used there with some symbolic
> intention. The composer of the page intends it to mean something.
>>  When does this symbolic content emerge out of an "information resource"
>> if it was not already there to begin with?
> 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.    (020)

Right, *that* badge, which in this cont----er.... which in this threaded 
e-mail discussion - definately indicates the one particular badge under 
discussion, the W3C's "THIS-page-uses-valid-XHTML" badge, which name denotes 
a specific assertion that you can make by placing that badge on your webpage 
with the specific intention that badge affords to you.    (021)

> But if you
> simply download it to admire the W3C graphic design, its merely an image,
> seems to me.    (022)

So what? I can admire you because you are a pile of quarks too, that doesn't 
remove the additional layers of organization that make you a person. This 
reminds me of what Leonardo said about the reaction of many of his 
compatriots to his Notebooks, "And often, when I see one of these men take 
this work in his hand, I wonder that he does not put it to his nose, like a 
monkey, or ask me if it is something good to eat."    (023)

> 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.    (024)

But that is only possible because at the factory, one particular natural 
language word is imprinted on each magnet. Your haiku are dependent on the 
interpretations afforded by those factory chosen words. I know. My wife has 
a set too, on our refrigerator. My son liked the one that said, "dad" - so 
much so that he broke it into pieces. Now I can't make a haiku about me 
unless I call myself by some other name. If I write to the factory, I will 
ask for replacements of the "dad" magnet, by which name I intend to denote 
that particular dad magnet.    (025)

John    (026)

> Pat
> -- 
> ---------------------------------------------------------------------
> IHMC (850)434 8903 or (650)494 3973   home
> 40 South Alcaniz St. (850)202 4416   office
> Pensacola (850)202 4440   fax
> FL 32502 (850)291 0667    cell
> phayesAT-SIGNihmc.us       http://www.ihmc.us/users/phayes
>    (027)

Message Archives: http://ontolog.cim3.net/forum/ontolog-forum/  
Subscribe/Config: http://ontolog.cim3.net/mailman/listinfo/ontolog-forum/  
Unsubscribe: mailto:ontolog-forum-leave@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Shared Files: http://ontolog.cim3.net/file/
Community Wiki: http://ontolog.cim3.net/wiki/ 
To Post: mailto:ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx    (028)

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>