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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: jcowan@reutershealth.com
  • Date: Mon, 22 May 2000 13:41:46 -0500

[John Cowan:]
> *Names* generally have meaning.  XML namespaces don't.

I don't agree with you, John.  XML Namespaces themselves have names,
and the names involve or include internet domain names.  Internet
domain names usually have meaning, at least to their owners.  Why else
would they choose them in the first place, above all other
possibilities, and then pay indefinitely to hang onto them?

>   (Actually, XLink locator elements should only appear inside extended
> >   XLinks, but I haven't found a formal machine-interpretable
> >   expression of that constraint that I could use to define and
> >   constrain architectures other than the XLink architecture, using the
> >   same software to validate instances for conformance with such
> >   context constraints.  We could do at least that much with DTDs.)
> I think one could write an architectural DTD for XLink fairly easily,
> modulo the question of user-defined prefixes.

I think you're right, but I repeat that haven't seen a W3C-blessed
formal, machine-interpretable expression of the constraint that
locators should only be found inside extended xlinks.  Yes, we could
write an ISO standard DTD or meta-DTD that would do the trick, but the
W3C's aversion to DTDs and (especially) the use of DTDs as inheritable
architectures is a matter of record.  XLink is going to be a W3C
Recommendation, and nobody else's.  Its canonical expression must be
W3C's, and nobody else's.  Formal expressions of it cannot be regarded
as a reliable basis for open information interchange if they are not
blessed by the W3C.

Which brings me to variation #2,931 of my usual rant (ho hum):

  It would be uncharacteristic of the W3C to use something just
  because it already works; their policy is to re-invent (or at least
  re-name) as much as possible before it can become a Recommendation.
  This policy is evidently intended to work in the interest of
  preserving and aggrandizing the W3C as an institution that regards
  itself as the sole source for all ideas about information
  management, but, ipso facto, it just as evidently works against the
  public interest.  

  Wouldn't it be nice if there were a *successful* institution that
  really did design, build, and adopt communications standards, all
  while making every single decision in a way that is calculated to
  maximize public benefit?  It's too bad that private money is so
  unlikely to support such an institution, and that government money
  is so overwhelmingly likely to be spent unproductively (or even

  Sigh.  We all need a miracle, here.  By judicious exercise of
  vision, faith and self-sacrifice, miracles sometimes do occur.
  Personally, I'm watching and hoping.  It's not that the W3C is bad;
  it's that we desperately need something that is more motivated by
  the public interest than by its own interest.

  I'm encouraged by the Linux phenomenon.  If Linux can meaningfully
  and beneficially corrode the mindshare dominance of Microsoft's most
  ill-conceived operating system technologies, the mindshare dominance
  of W3C's most ill-conceived technologies and practices must also be


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

NEW ADDRESS effective May 1, 2000:

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