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Processing 'my' XML (was Re: Why Model Concepts?)

At 01:12 AM 2/15/01 +0800, Rick Jelliffe wrote: [I've modified sequence]
>Perhaps we need to be reducing the need for human agreement on meanings as 
>much as possible.

Hear, hear!  While the story of agreement may be a useful opiate for 
getting the potential chaos of XML vocabularies past management, I'm very 
worried about the hangover that I fear must inevitably follow.

(Just wait until the black helicopters crowd hears about UN involvement in 
ebXML...  They're already suspicious of bar codes.)

>To be able to route information without knowing its meaning;

I really like this.  I've been poking at some very simple SAX 
implementations of XML routing, and hoping that we're moving past a 
conception of XML as point-to-point communications.  I'd like to think the 
future is XML routing, where messages move from machine to machine much as 
messages currently move between people.

>to be able to build structural dependencies into schemas so that users can 
>take document types for granted (and not need know why a stuctural 
>constraint is--unless they want to)

I'm not entirely sure what you mean by this - could you explain this in 
more depth?  I think I could agree to some extent if you're talking about 
'local' schemas, which users rely on to interpret and structure 'their' 
data, but it sounds like it could be yet another painful thing to agree on 
if you mean this in a broader sense.

>I wonder.  Perhaps (as well?) we need to go the other way: concentrating 
>on information hiding--figuring out how to notate data so that it can be
>manipulated by as generic tools as possible.

I'm not entirely sure what you mean by this.  I tend to prefer sending as 
much information as possible, but without the assumption that the 
information has the precise meaner the _sender_ expected.  That might have 
the same overall impact.

>If the semantic web was AI, then human-machine descriptions would be king; 
>I suspect the semantic web will emerge out of pragmatic and incremental
>development--raising the bar for generic manipulation of generic 
>structures each time.

I'd like to suggest that the Semantic Web might evolve out of people slowly 
teaching their machines how they handle information.  My vision of 
'pragmatic and incremental development' would be widely distributed, 
avoiding the need to 'raise the bar for generic manipulation' across the 
entire installed base by allowing users to pick (and to some extent design) 
their preferred tools.

I hope this sort of makes sense, any way.

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