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Re: experts

In a message dated 28/03/01 03:07:00 GMT Daylight Time, simonstl@simonstl.com

I'm pondering the term 'invited expert' and what it really means.

Do we really want a Web designed by experts?

Think about this for a while.


You use the term "expert" as if that was some mono-dimensional property. Yet
the work of the W3C is multi-dimensional and is based (implicitly) on the
shakey premise that an aggregation of domain experts produces a desirable
result. To confuse a technically viable result with a "desirable" result is a
mistake, in my view.

A desirable result, in my view, goes far beyond the narrow confines of
technical competence or viability. But discussion of those issues would
probably take me seriously off-topic for this list, so I will desist.

Those who produced XML 1.0 were in some sense domain experts but their
expertise in choosing an appropriate name was, I suggest, neither established
nor, when one examines the resulting acronym, particularly accurate.

Is XML a "language"? Or is it a meta-language? If XML had been called
Extensible Markup Meta Language (XMML) we might have been on more accurate
ground. But, peering more closely, is XML really extensible? If XML allows an
essentially infinite number of element names in what way is it "extensible"
in the way that it is often hyped to be?

In practice, of course, there would have been major problems in defining
*any* term which adequately and accurately represented what XML is to a wider

But, I guess, the temptation having "passed off" one inaccurate term is to
pay scant attention to precision of terminology in other contexts. The muddle
at W3C (or, more precisely, in W3C documents) about what is and isn't "XSL"
is a case in point (see my recent post to the list).

The broader point is that a domain expertise in markup languages, however
defined, does not automatically translate into an ability to communicate
either accurately or consistently. ... I guess that failure of communication
keeps the author of XML books in business, so maybe it isn't wholly a bad
thing. <grin/>

<big snip>

Maybe it's time for experts to let users figure out what they need.

There is an irony in this. When the result of e-business is an arguably
unprecedented customer focus, we find a centralised committee (or series of
committees) of experts deciding what the user needs or wants.

I wonder if the "centralised planning" approach will endure in this context
when, viewed in the broad sweep of history, it has failed in so many others.


Andrew Watt