W3C TAG Finding "The Self-Describing Web" has been published

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W3C TAG Finding "The Self-Describing Web" has been published


I am pleased to announce that the W3C TAG has published a new Finding titled "The Self-Describing Web" [1].  


The Web is designed to support flexible exploration of information by human users and by automated agents. For such exploration to be productive, information published by many different sources and for a variety of purposes must be comprehensible to a wide range of Web client software, and to users of that software.

HTTP and other Web technologies can be used to deploy resource representations that are self-describing: information about the encodings used for each representation is provided explicitly within the representation. Starting with a URI, there is a standard algorithm that a user agent can apply to retrieve and interpret such representations. Furthermore, representations can be what we refer to as grounded in the Web, by ensuring that specifications required to interpret them are determined unambiguously based on the URI, and that explicit references connect the pertinent specifications to each other. Web-grounding ensures that the specifications needed to interpret information on the Web can be identified unambiguously. When such self-describing, Web-grounded resources are linked together, the Web as a whole can support reliable, ad hoc discovery of information.

This finding describes how document formats, markup conventions, attribute values, and other data formats can be designed to facilitate the deployment of self-describing, Web-grounded Web content.

Although some of this finding deals with technical details, much of  it is intended to be useful to anyone who is interested in learning how to create documents for the Web, how to better administer Web servers, or who may be preparing specifications for new technologies or media-types to be integrated with the Web.  As the editor of this finding, I would like to thank the many members of the Web community who have taken the trouble to read and comment on draft versions of this finding.

A complete list of TAG findings, both approved and in draft state, is available at [2].  Also, the TAG has earlier made available "The Architecture of the World Wide Web" [3], which is intended as a comprehensive introduction to the Web's architecture, and which may also be of interest to readers of the newly published Finding.  Thank you.

Noah Mendelsohn
W3C TAG Chair

[1] http://www.w3.org/2001/tag/doc/selfDescribingDocuments
[2] http://www.w3.org/2001/tag/findings
[3] http://www.w3.org/TR/webarch/

Noah Mendelsohn
IBM Corporation
One Rogers Street
Cambridge, MA 02142