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   Re: XLink a special case in the self-describing Web?

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  • From: "Steven R. Newcomb" <srn@techno.com>
  • To: Eve.Maler@East.Sun.COM
  • Date: Sat, 20 May 2000 09:48:45 -0500

[Eve Maler:]
> XLink the namespace is just a set of attributes; this is just as much
> a legitimate namespace as any other.  The "sleight of hand" comes
> in the form of the XLink-as-application semantics, which is really
> separate from XLink-the-namespace.

I think Eve has put her finger on exactly what is bothering me.
XLink-the-namespace and XLink-the-application-semantics are, for me,
mutually inextricable.  I don't see any utility in either one, in the
absence of the other.  What am I missing, here?  Most readers of
xml-dev seem to have no trouble with the idea that XML Namespace names
used as element type names and attribute names have value that is
independent of what the names mean.  So far, I haven't detected any
such value.

It seems to me that XML Namespaces are an attempt to leverage the
existing investment in the management of the namespace of domain
names, so that there can be lots and lots of guaranteed-unique names,
available to everyone for every purpose.  But I don't see that XML
Namespaces even accomplishes that modest goal, in fact.  The namespace
of domain names is not a firm foundation for such a scheme.  People
trade domain names all the time; many domain names will not mean the
same things in the year 2002 that they mean in 2000, which for me,
anyway, calls into question the meaning of documents that reference
namespaces that depend on those domain names.  Even if the only
semantic of a domain name is that it forms a prefix for the name of a
namespace, the reliability of that semantic is compromised by the
economic reality that domain names change owners, meanings, and
purposes.  (It would work quite well if a namespace declaration
referred, in addition to the domain name itself, to a dated version of
the document (!) that constitutes the table of all extant domain names
and their owners, and if the database of all domain names and their
owners at any point in time could be queried in much the same rapid,
universal way that is today used to resolve domain names to IP

Again, it's just my neurosis, if you like, that names have to be
meaningful in order to be useful.  All these XML Namespace names seem
to me about as useful as leaves blowing in the wind.  Information that
I create today, using XML Namespaces, is far too subject to loss of
value, because of the high probability that the leaves will blow away.
I don't choose to invest my own life in the creation of information
that will not have the power to last.  I can't recommend such
practices to my customers, either, regardless of the popularity of XML
Namespaces.  Ars longa, vita brevis, etc.


Steven R. Newcomb, President, TechnoTeacher, Inc.
srn@techno.com  http://www.techno.com  ftp.techno.com

NEW ADDRESS effective May 1, 2000:

voice: +1 972 359 8160
fax    +1 972 359 0270

405 Flagler Court
Allen Texas 75013-2821 USA

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