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   RE: XML & Catalogs

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  • From: Patrick Gannon <gannon@commerce.net>
  • To: 'Steven Newcomb' <srn@techno.com>
  • Date: Thu, 25 Sep 1997 14:55:12 -0700


Nice to hear from someone who "gets it" regarding the impact of XML on future usage & searchability of internet catalogs.

Since this topic has spilled over from the original meeting posting and generated significant interest, I will request a listserv be established for xml-catalog.  This will allow for application oriented discussions of XML that are now related to development (XML-DEV) or EDI (XML-EDI) issues that have their own listserv.

Patrick Gannon

From: 	Steven R. Newcomb[SMTP:srn@techno.com]
Sent: 	Thursday, September 25, 1997 1:08 PM
To: 	Jon.Bosak@eng.sun.com
Subject: 	Re: XML iMarket Project Planning Meeting

[Jon Bosak:]

> What I as a consumer want to be able to do is quite simple.  I want to
> be able to say, "Hey, I need a new jacket," sit down at my computer,
> call up my find-a-product robot, enter my jacket parameters, and then
> come back a while later to find all the jackets that fit those
> parameters offered by all the vendors whose products I'm interested in
> considering.  If the catalog scheme isn't standardized enough to
> support this, then I as a consumer am not interested in using it.  If
> one of the vendors differentiates itself by adopting a scheme of data
> representation that doesn't allow this kind of transparent direct
> comparison, then it differentiates itself right out of the class of
> vendors I'm interested in, because if all it's giving me is the
> ability to cruise its catalog in isolation, I can get the same
> functionality from the printed version; it no longer participates in a
> way that allows the net to add value to me as a consumer.
> I'm not denying that vendors will want to differentiate their
> offerings, but if they can't do it in a way that supports detailed
> direct comparisons based on the differentia that I am interested in
> *as a consumer* then they are simply not in the game at all.

There is a very serious problem here that bears strikingly on an
ongoing discussion in XML-land: the discussion of so-called
"namespaces".  The idea that there will be consortia of vendors, or
any other sort of authority who will determine some list of names of
characteristics of each sort of product, so that characteristics can
be directly and automatically compared, is dangerous to innovation,
competition, and commerce, and it is totally unnecessary, too.  It
will open the door for existing businesses to use such architectures
as weapons against upstarts in niche markets and in unusual or new
market combinations.  Moreover, the use of information architectures
as weapons will always seem like perfectly reasonable business
practices, so it will be nobody's fault when new concepts fail to be
accepted in the marketplace, because the internet failed to live up to
its promise of helping people find what they are looking for and make
informed purchasing decisions.  The macroeconomy will be damaged.

. . . 

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