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   Re: Regulating the XML Marketplace

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  • From: "Simon St.Laurent" <simonstl@simonstl.com>
  • To: XML-Dev Mailing list <xml-dev@ic.ac.uk>
  • Date: Fri, 08 Jan 1999 07:33:05 -0500

At 05:54 AM 1/8/99 -0600, Paul Prescod wrote:
>XML is plumbing. Unlike Web-tac-toe, there is NOTHING that can be done
>with XML that could not be done with one of the dozens of proprietary,
>hierarchically structured languages that preceded it. 

I find it very sad that people don't value plumbing, argue that
infrastructure is fundamentally unexciting, and ignore the fact that
without infrastructure improvements like plumbing itself, railroads,
highways, and the Internet, we'd be in a very different place, one I don't
think too many of us relish returning to.  The builders of those
improvements couldn't always see their results, but I don't think you'd
have heard them saying that there was NOTHING new that you could do with
their facilities.

There are thousands, if not millions, of possibilities that XML enables.
Yes, you can do all kinds of junk to data in any proprietary way that you
like.  You can have all the fun in the world processing data any way you
want - but when it comes time to share that information, it ain't much good.  

Sharing is a difficult concept to sell in many ways. The Web did it very
successfully for a while, with a limited set of applications, but while it
was good at sharing information among users, its read-only approach, simple
linking, broken syntax, and limited vocabulary have limited its capacity,
and (to put it bluntly) the pipes are breaking.

Not everyone can smell the sewage yet, which makes it harder to sell XML,
but we need that plumbing.  We need bigger, more stable pipes through which
we can connect all that information cleanly.  Successfully creating those
systems will open the possibilities XML holds, making interchange easier,
which opens up new fields in collaboration, information storage and
retrieval, data processing, and a host of other fields.

Of course you could do it another way, but don't we have enough damn closed
boxes already?  Instead of shutting down discussion by claiming that XML
isn't good for anything new, why don't we try to expand it by figuring out
how XML fits into the old and improves it significantly?

Simon St.Laurent
XML: A Primer / Cookies
Sharing Bandwidth 
Building XML Applications (March)

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