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   Re: Myths and Misunderstandings

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  • From: Len Bullard <cbullard@hiwaay.net>
  • To: xml-dev@xml.org
  • Date: Thu, 11 May 2000 15:54:49 -0500

I seem to have been removed from distribution, probably 
because of the bounces.  I've tried to correct that in 
this old NS3.01 browser I use at home.   God bless 
egroups. Anyway...

David Barnes asks:

>>does the transmeta chip/concept have a better standing?

I don't know, David.  One might say it is less dangerous given 
the lower market penetration.  I don't have the facts about 
what either chip is designed to do for XML except what is 
on the Intel pages.  I want the same answers for both.

The question is simply should the hardware vendor pick the "main" 
application languages for XML.  

It is not something I want them to do since it corrupts the 
local contracting processes.  IOW, give me an accelerator where 
I can configure it based on the negotiated document protocols (and 
I do mean human in the loop negotiations) and I am happy to 
use this tech.  Make that Intel or transmeta's choice and I have 
exactly the same situation as a bundled browser.  I may indeed 
wish to use CommerceOne or Ariba languages, but that is a local 
choice.  Intel doesn't get to choose. If they do, we're back 
to the DOJ trying to figure out what all of this means.

I was just amazed that people were more concerned about a 
SNAFU in the Washington Post than a decision by Intel.  
That is what I meant by 'snake brain':  the  
fight or flight reaction that is so easy to program 
and so hard to unlearn.  Yes, it is important that 
information published be correct, but we have tolerated a 
lot of incorrect information about the origins of XML and 
its antecedents. It is improving. I had fun sitting down this week 
at Barnes and Nobles going through all of the XML books 
to choose one to recommend locally (I chose Professional XML 
from Wrox) and for the most part, the descriptions are now 
a *lot* better than they were a year ago.  Part of that is 
the error corrections on XML-Dev which are "an inestimable 

OTOH, some of the comments were still dang near absurd.
Many reflect a desire to shape the myths about 
the origins of the web into politically convenient forms:

o TimBL was unaware of the hypertext research of other 
developers. Please.  That would not convince me that 
he is a genius; it would tell me he missed the part of 
school that teaches research before implementation.

or to propagate a good practice that is only a practice, not a rule. 
That is the icky stuff that becomes superstitious engineering.

o  XML separates presentation and content.  No it 
doesn't.  It enables that.  OTW, XML doesn't care.  It's a 
syntax.  There are other parts of *the system* that make 
that a good thing to do: eg, the DOM.   This is one  
of the collection of myths entitled The SGML Way which 
were once darlings but in some ways, self-destructive.  We have 
to be careful here.  Sometimes you need to mix presentation 
and content.   SGML didn't teach that either; SGMLers did.  

Mythmaking is part of marketing:  brochureBrouhahas.  
It is worth a private note, but not a public beheading.  
As for me, MS makes a lot of neat technology.  
Gotta love their programmers even if you want to take 
the short sword after their managers.  "All politics are local."

The web is an amplifier.  The interface is a behavioral shaping 
mechanism.  They operate at the level of the snake brain, 
shaping behavior by repetition of reinforcers that create 
chains of Stimulus/Response - Consequent.  If that is 
the level of learning one needs, use it, but there is more 
to benefit from self-selection as long as one understands 
the limiting factors of the loop between self-selection 
and environment that drive the evolution of both.

Only human reasoning based on verifiable, testable, 
facts can make *just* decisions, one brain at a time.  In 
a firestorm of signals, we have to train ourselves to pick 
out the important ones; otherwise, we are left to the 
leadership of "important people who talk to important people" 
and that inevitably leads to what a friend (Newcomb) has quoted 
another (Pepper) as describing "a dictatorship in support of a 
plutocracy".  It is conformism (as Jeliffe says) but to 
what or who?  Trust yourself to choose and be ready to be 
very provoked if someone considers it their choice 
to choose for you.  If Intel lets me choose the language, 
I am happy for the performance boost.  If not, maybe 
transmeta will.  Choose.



Ekam sat.h, Vipraah bahudhaa vadanti.
Daamyata. Datta. Dayadhvam.h

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