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   Re: local, global (was various ontology, RDF, topic maps)

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  • From: "Simon St.Laurent" <simonstl@simonstl.com>
  • To: XML DEV <xml-dev@lists.xml.org>
  • Date: Thu, 21 Dec 2000 18:40:51 -0500

At 04:00 PM 12/21/00 -0700, Uche Ogbuji wrote:
>I think the 18th-century American insistence on re-inventing the wheel,
>obliquely mocked by Oscar Wilde in _The Canterville Ghost_, is no matter
>for emulation.  In system one, you have every town's doctor dispensing his
>own sovereign specific for afflictions of the humor.  In system two, you have
>a few companies making and selling medicines, and you have parmacies in
>each town merely distributing the products, with regulatory and
>commercial controls of quality and other factors.  Now outside of villatic
>romance, do you really think system one superior to system two?

System two is superior in many respects, but might still learn something
from system one.  When companies in system two are racing for approval of
their pharmaceutical products, they have typically focused on what they're
producing and whether it works rather than how efficiently they are
producing it.  When they submit their product for regulatory approval, they
have to include (and use in their tests) the manufacturing process.

It's kind of unusual for that manufacturing process to be the best or most
efficient, but for years that process would get set in stone (because of
the cost of retesting), whatever its impact on consumer prices.  This is
changing, though slowly, as both companies and regulators try to find a
happier medium.

I'd like to suggest system three, where enough creative destruction goes on
to permit reinvention where necessary to provide efficient provision of
results - and I think that's pretty much what goes on in computing.  Some
reinvention of the wheel, some learning about inventions.  Code bases
constantly change, though it may not be visible to users.  And only
foundations (binary math?) are ever fixed in concrete.  For me, ontology
can't begin to qualify as a foundation.

Simon St.Laurent
XML Elements of Style / XML: A Primer, 2nd Ed.
XHTML: Migrating Toward XML
http://www.simonstl.com - XML essays and books


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