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- From: Michael.Orr@Design-Intelligence.com
- To: email@example.com
- Date: Fri, 19 Nov 1999 11:05:35 -0800
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Sebastian Rahtz
> Subject: Re: History
> Betty L. Harvey writes:
> > I give credit to Tim Berners-Lee
> > for the insight to recognize that SGML was format for the Web - HTML.
> > could have chosen NROFF, RUNOFF - any of those other system formatting
> > languages but he chose SGML - Thank you very much.
> But he didn't choose SGML. He saw some SGML documents and borrowed
> some of the look of it. I am sure that he would not claim that he
> understood SGML at the time.
Of course he understood it!
He also understood that the *first* order of business was to create a
hypertext page that everyone could read and write, because:
(1) the value of that is an order of magnitude higher than all previous
computer applications combined,
(2) it was pragmatically achievable -- including world-wide viral
distribution -- on top of the internet as it existed at the time, and
(3) that done, generalized markup could be added on top of a platform
so compelling, economically and otherwise, that no organization would
decline to adopt it.
The most productive single insight in the history of the world.
Do you think it's a coincidence that the adoption curve for markup looks
like a step function?
-------- (y = signif % of human activity)
(thousands of lines deleted)
SGML --- (infinite time) --- HTML (y = SE-intense structured publishing)
The ultrasimplifications in HTML brought some problems. They can be
fixed, but they could not have been prevented without killing the goose.
The cost of the retrofix is high enough to be painful to some of us
who come from an engineering mindset, sometimes to the extent that it
seems unjustifiable, leading to remarks characterizing HTML as a botch.
This is called having one's eye too close to the page: nothing could be
further from the truth.
The role of XML is to converge full-powered, fully-leveraged, fully-
engineering-compatible computing back in. Its mission must be universal
expressiveness, and it must commit to that as firmly as HTML committed
to *its* mission of universal accessibility.
The W3C process to date has executed admirably against this mission,
and one thing that has helped tremendously is HTML's inborn, though
imperfect and mostly unconscious, extensibility as an SGML-based
This is also not a coincidence.
Michael Orr, CTO, VP R&D
Design Intelligence Inc, Seattle WA USA
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