A resource is not the thing...

2012-02-17 @ 11:43#

this continues to be one of my favorite quotes from Roy Fielding. it captures not just some details about the HTTP protocol, not just the heart of the problem w/ attempts to use URIs as permanent identifiers, but also a fundamental observation of how humans actually operate in the world.

A resource is not the thing that is transferred across the wire or picked up off the disk or seen from afar while walking your dog. Each of those is only a representation. The same is true of physical objects encountered in life and never identified with URI and never made accessible on the net. Yes, it does present a bit of a quandary, but it is one that we have all learned to live with. Our eyes are not powerful enough to see identity through the representations, but our minds are powerful enough to associate identity to that which we see. Do I think of a different identifier every time I see my dog, or do I simply think of my dog as one identity and experience many representations of that identity over time (and on into memory and imagination)?

Roy Fielding - July 2002

this quote brings a smile to my face each time i read it.