Material Cultures2010 Alexandre Monnin


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Material Cultures 2010, Centre for the History of Books, Old College, University of Edinburgh, July 17 2010

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Material Cultures2010 Alexandre Monnin

  1. 1. From words to URIs and tags The Information Revolution as a Materialization of the Link Between Words and Things Alexandre Monnin, Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne University Material Cultures 2010, Edinburgh
  2. 2. Manicule!
  3. 3. It certainly points to something but, on the Web, the question is… to what?
  4. 4. Manicules: refined bookmarks?
  5. 5. The problem is, there are no such things, in the Web’s architecture, as Webpages. ≠
  6. 6. To understand why, let us distinguish between two senses of the word « reference »
  7. 7. Reference and documents
  8. 8. • In the core of the document
  9. 9. • At the end of the text
  10. 10. XPointers are a non-XML syntax for identifying “locations” inside XML documents.
  11. 11. Reference in Philosophy of Language.
  12. 12. « Xpointer Framework » TWO WORDS. a PROPER NAME.
  13. 13. How do similar expressions refer? • a name like « Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) 1.1 » • a reference like [6]
  14. 14. The name “SVG 1.1 specification” refers to W3C specification that was published online, hence an information object.
  15. 15. [6] is a static bibliographic reference
  16. 16. What about this URI: ? Three answers.
  17. 17. 1/3: Currently, it gives access to a June 22nd 2010 Working draft
  18. 18. with no less than 10 editors?
  19. 19. • 2/3 : It identifies one resource, published by the person who owns the URI or is using a service that lets her publish on the Web (a la FlickR). • E.g.: The SVG 1.1 specification (not just a name but a name + a demonstrative)
  20. 20. • 3/3 : it refers to whatever one wants (like a millian meaningless mark).
  21. 21. By contrast the bibliographic reference: identified a document with a given set of characteristics. A W3C Recommendation released the 14th of January 2003 and authored by three editors.
  22. 22. Document Current expression of a resource Number of editors 3 10 Status W3C W3C Working Draft Recommendation Title Scalable Vector Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) 1.1 Graphics (SVG) 1.1 Specification (Second Edition) URI TR/SVG11/ until 30 TR/SVG11/ since 22 April 2009, June 2010 TR/2003/REC- SVG11-20030114/ after
  23. 23. Does it all boils down to differences of editions? Hint: no.
  24. 24. No book may change to such an extent the expression of a resource is able to while the resource itself remains the same. We might imagine (especially if there is an artist behind) and no doubt find relevant examples of books that underwent drastic changes between two editions. So, what’s the difference? These are marginal cases, while, on the Web, everything works like that.
  25. 25. Resources IRW, Halpin and Presutti 2009.
  26. 26. A URI like • identifies one resource, which remains the same, • and gives access to its representation (the latter being subject to changes over time)
  27. 27. Expressions of a resource v.s editions of a book
  28. 28. Yesterday we discussed cookery books, recipes & the question of localization. A book of recipes, once localized, would be altered but as a resource it would remain the same provided the person who published it cared about their feasibility.
  29. 29. Localization Quart Cup (american) http://www.flick Photo by Explicit differences Implicit differences ke/ Litre Cup (japanese)
  30. 30. If her resource was instead a precise text, in all its minute details, with no regard to the function of a cookery book, things would be different.
  31. 31. On the Web, the various representations of a resource are generated through Conneg. (content negociation)
  32. 32. • “HTTP has provisions for several mechanisms for "content negotiation" -- the process of selecting the best representation for a given response when there are multiple representations available.” (Hypertext Transfer Protocol -- HTTP/1.1 RFC 2616 Fielding, et al.)
  33. 33. Which resource is the meaning of a URI? The answer to that question depend on another question/riddle: how can we follow a rule? (raised by at least “three” philosophers, namely Goodman and Kripgenstein).
  34. 34. To determine the correct expression of a resource you certainly need to follow a rule.). E.g. The SVG 1.1 specification Pronoun Name This demonstrative The name account for the timeless betoken the timely aspect of the resource (reminiscent nature of the expression of the concept of substance in of the said resource. Aristotle)
  35. 35. Which rule ? If I see this : I might imagine that it is a token of the colour Green. No, I meant « Grue »! tos/aturkus/ Photo by
  36. 36. • Current instantiation (realization): • Example of overall representation:
  37. 37. The Genericity of resources on the Web ( Generic.html) opens the possibility of rule- following. Generity & rule-following help to distinguish between resources & their expressions.
  38. 38. One can infer from its expression what a resource is, and nevertheless choose to refer to whatever she wants. Whence the importance of tagging as a vector of social meaning (because meaning is not just a private affair, nor a function of URI ownership).
  39. 39. Tags are blank spaces (not keywords, please).
  40. 40. summary tag actions as typed & named graphs + ontology rdf:type http://... nt:TagAction sign … … resource RELATION … …
  41. 41. Modelled, in the NiceTag ontology as tag actions akin to speech acts (assert, point, share, etc.) but more varied thanks to the possibility offered by technology – to send and share, point, etc.).
  42. 42.  what about non-information resources??? Web of documents or Web of Things? (Identity Crisis, Hayes and Halpin)
  43. 43. What is this resource : Picture by Uldis Bojārs a picture of Tim Berners- Lee or the man himself ? I might not be able to decide until I try to ask for other expressions. Then if I get an RDF document with either a description of Tim Berners-Lee or of that photo (or something else altogether), in all likelihood, I’ll know. URI publishers still have an authoritative position and may assert which expressions of a resource they favour through conneg. They’re the ones who fix the meaning of the URI (aka the resource) though identification.
  44. 44. Back to where we used to be: documents and things, on the Web anything is a resource.
  45. 45. But isn’t a video just… a video? Not really, it’s also an « intentional object » (D.Dennett) and how it is used will let us decide which resource is behind.
  46. 46. Not quite. See Media Fragments for instance. Slide by R.Troncy:
  47. 47. Any part of a video identified with URIs media fragments becomes a resource.
  48. 48. Now, considering what was said before, it doesn’t come as a surprise that this URI may, at will, stand for this segment itself or identify a real-world event captured (represented) by this recording.
  49. 49. Materialization of the link between words and things. a) Identification/reference & access. b) Access, in the case of dereferenceable URIs that identify resources, concerns their expressions. c) Further work includes taking into account the materiality of objects to better articulate resources & their various expressions, materiality & meaning.
  50. 50. Future: the Web of Objets • Time is of paramount importance for any ontology of resource. • As was said earlier, resources come in non-information flavour. With the growing importance of the Web, the on-offline distinction is losing ground. • It might thus be our entire ontology of real-world things that is shifting towards a picture where the importance of time is no longer obfuscated. •  the ontology of the Web and our ontology are converging as the former becomes ubiquitous •  time, becoming and being are no longer antagonistic concepts